Office 365 Connectivity Principles
Blog Office 365 Network

Route to Office 365 best practices: Enable Direct Connectivity

In this series of articles on Office 365 connectivity we are explaining in detail each principle as recommended by Microsoft. In the previous article we had a look at the egress point. We have seen how important it is to use a local egress for your connection and how the DNS can be a point of failure even if it redirects your user to a point not that far away (Saint Petersburg instead of Marseille for a user in Nice).

Now let’s have a closer look at the next principle: Enabling Direct Connectivity. When the traffic is outgoing, especially on the optimized FQDNs, it should connect directly to the nearest Office 365 front door.

We at GSX have seen three main situations that cause hairpins and lengthen the network path between a user and the Microsoft network.

The first situation is a bad DNS lookup.

The second situation is due to a cloud-based network security device.

If you are choosing a cloud security provider, make sure that the network device is physically near the user. You need to discuss this with your cloud security provider. We have seen many situations when the cloud security service was actually sitting in a data center on another continent (for example in the USA for a user in Europe), causing the length of the route to the cloud and latency to increase.

The third situation is due to a connection through headquarters.

A lot of enterprises have their networks configured to backhaul the network traffic to the headquarters data center in order to inspect it before releasing it to the Internet.

This goes against everything you should do to ensure a better end-user experience. VPN and MPLS networks are far slower than the Microsoft Global network.

So let’s see how backhauling your network traffic affects your users in real life.

First I need to explain briefly how we test the end-user experience. As you may know, GSX provides the Office 365 end-to-end service monitoring solution. We use our Robot users that can be installed anywhere and that use Office 365 exactly the way a user does, measuring the user experience and service quality, alerting and reporting on it.

Below we can see a PowerBI report from multiple Robots. For this network backhauling experiment, we will look at the blue robot (Robot user in Nice using VPN to connect to the US before going out to the internet) and the witness Robot yellow (Robot user in Nice connecting directly to the nearest Office 365 front door in Marseille).

User Experience Quality

As you can see, the difference in Office 365 performance is really big. This is just because the Robot user in Nice needs to send its traffic to the headquarters in Boston for inspection before sending it to the internet through the Boston front door for Office 365.

If we check, for example, the service quality of Onedrive, once again the difference is striking:

The execution time of the connection, upload and download document in Onedrive (left chart) is about 25% higher with the Robot forced to connect to the headquarters. The difference in basic uptime is even worst. While the Robot connecting from Nice to the Marseille Office 365 front achieves about 100% uptime, the one first connecting to the USA reaches only 70%. Users are complaining and you know why!

Once again, we can confirm that with the Microsoft connectivity tool.

You can clearly see that the route to the Office 365 front door travels across the Atlantic Ocean. The results of the test (on the right) shows that this is really not the ideal situation. Under the map the Connectivity Tool chart shows that performance is only comparable to that of other users in Nice in the yellow part.

So once again, when you spot an end-user issue at a site (and for that GSX provides the best possible tool), the Microsoft Connectivity Tool provides a simple way to analyze what is going on from a pure connectivity standpoint.

As you can see, enabling direct connectivity is really important to ensure a good end-user experience. It of course goes hand in hand with the previous principle to egress locally.

To sum up, we’ve seen how it is important to be able to detect poor end-user experience and service quality by using the GSX monitoring solution for Office 365. Then you can troubleshoot what is going on with the Microsoft Connectivity tool.

And all of that can be done because the traffic is limited because it has been differentiated. In this series of articles on Office 365 connectivity principles, we discuss:

GSX Solutions provides the only Office 365 user experience monitoring tool that truly measures the quality of the service delivered to all enterprises’ sites, enabling their IT to take power of the Office 365 performance.

Get started today with Office 365 monitoring and see how you can keep your employees on the path to optimal productivity.

Let's get started.