Office 365 Is Stressing Enterprise Networks: Are Your Employees Suffering?
by December 14, 2016

Filed under: Networking Technology

Moving business applications to the cloud seems like the holy grail for maximizing ROI and supporting an increasingly mobile and remote workforce. However, not all cloud migrations are created equal.

Microsoft Office 365, in particular, is presenting challenges for enterprise networks. This isn’t like the old days, when IT upgraded one desktop per user to a new version of the local Office suite.

If you want to enjoy the benefits of adopting cloud-based Office 365, you have to make sure to preserve the end-user experience employees expect.

Why Is Office 365 So Different than On-Premises Office?

Migrating to Office 365 integrates communication, collaboration and social networking in one platform. At first glance, this seems like a win-win for IT, as you gain cloud benefits while cutting back on the number of unified communications platforms within your organization.

However, migrating to Office 365 introduces a fundamental shift in network architecture and completely changes traffic patterns. These changes can result in up to 500% increases in bandwidth requirements just to support the cloud-based suite of applications. Whether you’re synchronizing Outlook, supporting continuous software updates, downloading templates, videoconferencing or any other process that Office 365 supports, you’re going to be asking a lot of your enterprise network.

But this isn’t a design flaw or some issue with Office 365. The problem lies in your company-wide internet connectivity. According to Gartner research, the vast majority of existing enterprise internet connectivity won’t be good enough to support high-quality Office 365 performance. And this reality has caused 20% of enterprises adopting Office 365 to complain about service performance issues.

IT leaders will understand that performance issues are rooted in the enterprise network, but end users won’t have sympathy. For employees who are so used to the high performance of Microsoft Office on their local machines, performance degradation after migrating to Office 365 is a surefire way to decrease morale. That’s not to mention the massive costs of lost productivity as end users experience slow performance on this mission-critical platform.

The benefits of cloud-based Office 365 are well worth your time and investment—you just have to protect end-user experience as you make this fundamental shift.

End-User Experience Considerations with Office 365

When you’re assessing the success of your Office 365 migration, end-user experience has to be your top concern. After all, what good are the benefits of a cloud-based communication and collaboration platform if your employees can’t actually communicate or collaborate effectively?

There are multiple roadblocks that stand in the way between your employees and a seamless Office 365 experience. You have to worry about the consequences of geographical distance between user locations and Office 365 hosting, the quality of your on-site internet connectivity, the openness of network paths, the performance of network endpoints and more.

In the past, you might have addressed bandwidth concerns by implementing expensive MPLS networks or WAN optimization solutions—but these won’t solve end-user experience issues with cloud-based Office 365. Instead, you have to track key end-user experience metrics and stay ahead of potential issues by optimizing your network performance.

We just recently discussed important network metrics for a cloud world. But to recap, here are some KPIs that will keep you informed about the Office 365 end-user experience:

  • Latency
  • Packet loss
  • Network capacity
  • Jitter
  • Quality of service

From an IT perspective, there’s no doubt that Office 365 is stressing enterprise networks. But you have to go a step further and empathize with potentially suffering employees. If you can monitor the right end-user experience metrics, you can stay ahead of issues that could lead to costly losses in productivity.

If you want to learn more about the end-user experience metrics that will keep you ahead of Office 365 performance issues, download our free white paper, 14 Metrics to Optimize End User Experience.