…and how to fix it

Microsoft Office 365 is the most popular cloud service by user count, with over 155 million users, and is still growing fast. More impressive, a Wakefield Research study found that nearly three-quarters of the companies surveyed increased workforce productivity after transitioning to Microsoft’s cloud service. Other benefits include widespread access from any branch, keeping up with software updates and technology changes, reduced costs, and more.

But deploying to Office 365 is not without its challenges. Nearly one-third of organizations using Office 365 report performance challenges or insufficient service availability. Whether that performance manifests itself into sluggish SharePoint access or the inability to download an email attachment, every employee in the enterprise is impacted.

Unfortunately, only a small percentage of these problems can be addressed by simply adding more bandwidth. A survey by TechValidate found that even after increasing firewall and network bandwidth capacity, nearly 70% of companies still experienced weekly network-related performance issues.

Preview of the Understanding Office 365 Performance Infographic. Click below for full download.
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The team from Apcela has the benefit of working with a variety of organizations at different phases in their Office 365 journey. While every solution is unique, some of the challenges across enterprises are strikingly similar – and these key pain points can often be traced back to network and security issues. Below are three of the most common challenges that we have seen enterprises experience when transitioning to Office 365.

#1. Global Enterprises Restricted by a Single O365 Instance

Microsoft hosts Office 365 in the region in which the business is headquartered – so if a global enterprise has locations in different continents, they have to deal with a single O365 instance. This means using expensive MPLS between locations to traverse the internet.

#2. Centralized Internet Egress Points Resulting in Network Hairpins

Enterprises that use centralized internet egress points will also have a single peering location with Office 365 – which means that more often than not, traffic ends up hair pinning, adding latency that delivers a hit to O365 performance. For instance, if O365 is hosted in the West Coast, East Coast users have to go all the way to the West Coast to peer and then back. It would be easier and faster to connect to a peering point in the East, but many enterprises don’t use multiple points because companies still use centralized egress points or gateways.

#3. Cloud-based Security and Network Limitations

Companies that use cloud-based security or a CASB product need to account for security sitting between users and Microsoft. This means performance is further impacted by the cloud provider’s performance and the network between those sites. While in theory, users distributed globally can access O365 from anywhere, performance is noticeably degraded when traffic has to route through the security provider’s location as well before arriving at the user location.

Apcela’s Perspective

The ideal solution for optimizing network performance for enterprise Office 365 consists of five basic ingredients:

1. Direct peering with Microsoft:

The closer you are to Microsoft’s own data centers, the less latency you’ll experience. Direct peering takes yet another speed bump out of the equation.

2. Global footprint:

Apcela serves more than 100 clients across 185 markets in 41 countries. Don’t limit yourself to a single O365 instance in one continent. No matter where your business takes you, make sure your provider can follow.

3. A low-latency, high-performance backbone:

With insight into the shortest panes of glass between any two locations, from corporate data centers to branch offices, we can make sure your traffic gets where it needs to be with no delay, jitter, or packet loss.

4. Intelligent SD-WAN routing capabilities:

Dynamic path selection means YOU get to define the policies around latency, jitter, and packet loss, as well as application level SLAs, and we will provide the rest. With intelligent routing, experience improved transport options, controlled pathways, automated provisioning, and optimized security at the edge.

5. Distributed security on your own terms:

De-centralize security and protect data and applications all the way to the edge. Deploy security from regional hubs to eliminate the need to route through a centralized firewall. Bye bye bottlenecks.

Apcela’s CloudHub model provides this and more. Using Apcela’s CloudHubs, called AppHubs, which function as interconnected regional hubs, companies can communicate in a higher performing and cheaper way. This platform can connect offices to the closest hub, instead of backhauling traffic over the WAN to a centralized data center, and then use Apcela’s global mesh backbone. With this infrastructure environment, the network and peering points are distributed much closer to Microsoft, reducing latency and improving performance. The AppHub platform is a suite that can incorporate other solutions such as security in addition to the Office 365 Accelerator. Learn more here.

Need proof?

  • Office 365 Outlook email performs 30-50% better on the Apcela backbone versus the internet
  • Non-email Office 365 applications perform 40-60% better on the Apcela backbone versus the internet

*based on testing done at Apcela locations. See the O365 Accelerator Solution Brief for more

Go faster with Apcela’s O365 Accelerator

If your company identifies with any of the above scenarios, leveraging CloudHubs to deploy more localized internet access, a more distributed security environment, and direct access to Microsoft peering locations and cloud gateways may just be the fix.

We are here to help

If you are just getting started with your Office 365 deployment or are looking for suggestions on how to optimize what is currently in place, send us a note – we would love to help.

For more information, contact us or check out our O365 Accelerator Executive Brief or Solution Brief.

Watch the Apcela Talks webinar and dive deeper into the challenges of O365 deployments and how the cloud-first revolution is transforming enterprise network architecture.

How can we help? 

We love talking about software-defined networks and the cloud! Let us know if we can help by filling out the form. Cheers!