What is
Office 365?

Office 365 is a suite of Software as a Service Applications hosted in Microsoft’s cloud based platforms. This suite of applications includes Exchange for email, OneDrive for file storage, SharePoint for file sharing and collaboration, and a couple of relatively new application additions such Delve and Sway. Delve is an intuitive platform to be able to access documents easily. It categorises and documents things that have been shared with you, so you can access logically. Sway is a presentation style of application, similar to PowerPoint but more dynamic.

This paper is concentrating on the main applications of O365 which are Exchange, OneDrive and SharePoint.

Trends in usage and
take-up of O365

60% of The Network Collective’s clients are either on the journey or have already completed some, or all of the migration physically around Exchange, OneDrive and file storage to Office 365. With additional products like Skype for Business, the uptake is now relatively mainstream, and O365 is a tried and tested solution. As many companies now no longer want to own and operate expensive infrastructure platforms, the platform O365 delivers means companies are able to strip out significant amounts of infrastructure and shift the workload to a cloud-hosted model.

Some companies will move services out of their datacentres because of an aging infrastructure and the significant capital cost involved. These companies are thus moving for like-for-like purposes.

Other companies will adopt this strategy to effectively optimise mobilisation. They want to start using some of the additional applications such as Delve, Sway, and SharePoint. They also want to have access to those services on a mobile basis as opposed to a fixed basis

One driver for O365 usage is primarily commercial (cheaper than replacing the whole Exchange, File Services and SharePoint environment), and the other key driver is around additional business benefit, flexibility, and mobility.

Before you embark
on this project..

The first thing a company needs to consider is that the application hosting location will change from being either local, or centralised within their datacentre, to being an external cloud-hosted application. This means that the business needs to think about how the new traffic flows will traverse the network to get from the end-user device to the cloud by the quickest and most effective route. Using the default 0365 access model, the internet, you are effectively routing all your traffic via your existing internet access provision as opposed to any type of private connectivity.

There is also another significant piece of analysis that needs to take place around the understanding of the user population and how moving to O365 might change the way these users actually consume these applications. Profiling of the user base to understand how those services are going to be consumed in the new world is very important.

The Network Collective has seen a number of profiles being created. These may range from:

  • A standard user who has a desktop and their day to day job is just to send emails and do more admin type of work. Their profile has essentially remained the same, and they access email in the same way that they accessed it before.

To:

  • A user that is maybe travelling quite a lot and has maybe three or four different devices, (including a laptop, desktop, and mobile). They need to access the same data securely on all of those devices at any given time. Therefore that profile change and the required access needs to be thought about, security needs to be considered, performance capacity needs to be factored in too, in order for those people to be able to access those services from wherever they are.

You would make sure that you understand your user profiles, and then understand your business requirements for the usage of Office 365 and how O365 is going to be used across the network.

Another point around ‘readiness’ is to consider the location of users. The way Microsoft hosts O365 is on a tenancy style basis, with locations all around the Globe from which they are able to host these applications. This is fine but the problem, particularly for global companies, is that if you want to be able to collaborate globally and share Exchange, SharePoint, and OneDrive functionality globally, you have to put all the services into one tenant. For example, a European company with global sites, and users in Australia and Brazil would effectively have to traverse the global internet to be able to access those services. Therefore, those users moving from a localised instance of Exchange in the current world to a cloud-based Exchange service in Amsterdam or Dublin(Microsoft EU Tenant), may see a performance impact as the actual network round trip time to get from Australia to Dublin is significant.

This is one of the big issues that TNC sees in O365 WAN deployments. We see with a number of customers it is preventing them from implementing a full global deployment of O365. If you are a European company or a UK company then there are generally no issues but if you are a global company, there are potentially some challenges once you get beyond the working parameters of approx’ 250/300 milliseconds of access to the Amsterdam or Dublin datacentres (or wherever the nearest registered tenant is for the organisation). That is therefore another key consideration for ‘Readiness’ – understanding where the physical locations are and then understanding where your tenants are – where the actual data and applications are going to be hosted, and making sure that the parameters are not breached, to be able to access the service and it be performing in an optimal manner.

Best practice principles and
considerations

One of the main best practice principles should be to reduce the network round trip distance between the end user and where the data source is. In traditional MPLS networks, where you might have central cloud or centralised data centre breakout, the traversal of that network adds latency to access the actual data hosting environment. There is a view (and this is where TNC is seeing more Office 365 based organisations adopting a hybrid network route) that providing a locally based, or local breakout from MPLS, to the internet is a more efficient way of accessing those services. That is one key consideration of design: Route optimisation – enabling the shortest path to where the data is hosted.

The second principle is the three key parameters around network performance: round trip delay, jitter, and packet loss. These are three key things that will affect performance, particularly if you are collaborating on a SharePoint document for example. In circumstances where there is lots of packet loss, jitter, or the round trip time is above 300 milliseconds, then the performance of that collaborative experience is going to be poor because it is just beyond the working parameters that Microsoft states. So when designing networks for O365, you need to work within a set of parameters which are defined in whole by Microsoft. Generally this is around 300 milliseconds for a round trip delay, a very small percentage of jitter, and almost no packet loss. Those are the key parameters to try to work to in an O365 network-ready design.

Disclaimer

Other than matters relating to The Network Collective, this research is based on current public information that we consider reliable. Opinions expressed may change without notice and may differ from views set out in other documents created by The Network Collective. The above information is provided for informational purposes only and without any obligation, whether contractual or otherwise. No warranty or representation is made as to the correctness, completeness and accuracy of the information given or the assessments made.

This research does not constitute a personal recommendation or take into account the particular investment objectives, financial situations, or needs of individual clients. Clients should consider whether any advice or recommendation in this research is suitable for their particular circumstances and, if appropriate, seek professional advice.

No part of this material may be (i) copied, photocopied or duplicated in any form by any means or (ii) redistributed without the prior written consent of The Network Collective Limited © 2018

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