Office 365 Monitoring Best Practices

User Experiences

Let’s talk about the value of monitoring Office 365 to proactively discover and resolve issues.

“But why?” I hear you ask. “This is the age of THE CLOUD. My tools live in that magical place in the sky that never breaks down.”

Well... hate to break it to you, but that’s not really the case. I mean, I’m not going to say that Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) doesn’t benefit corporations in numerous ways. It does, without a doubt! At the same time, when working with cloud-based applications, many organizations assume that large businesses like Microsoft won’t ever suffer from downtime. And there’s your problem.

Downtime from critical productivity SaaS applications such as Office 365 isn’t an outlier case. It can happen to anyone, any time. What’s more, it can cost your organization quite a lot in revenue.

The good news is that you don’t have to simply cross your fingers and pray that this kind of disaster won’t happen to you. To ensure your organization stays alert and can quickly pivot during downtime, take a look at Office 365 monitoring tools that notify you when users could be experiencing performance issues or cannot access the SaaS platform.

All right, all right, let’s back it up a little and start by answering the question...

Why Rely on Third-Party Cloud Applications?

Many businesses today rely on third-party applications rather than hosting them in-house. Granted, hosting in-house would provide businesses with a bit more control and it would be easier to trace the origin of issues if there are any outages. That said, SaaS rose in popularity quickly for many reasons.

The first and main reason for the rising popularity of SaaS is cost reduction. Housing infrastructure to host applications used by all users - both local and remote - is expensive. You need the infrastructure, the employees to maintain it, and the ability to secure it. All these factors cost money - and that cost increases as your organization grows.

SaaS applications offer a more convenient way for users - particularly remote users - to access business software. Office 365 is a full productivity suite. Giving users access to this software offers a convenient way for users to create, share, and collaborate on documents.

Although Office 365 is in the cloud and available to the world, it still has better security than self-hosted applications. That’s because you can leverage Office 365 internal authentication and authorization rules, which are far more effective than creating custom controls internally.

The cloud also offers Office 365 users better resiliency and uptime than on-premise infrastructure, despite the cloud’s occasional performance issues and outages. Most organizations must interrupt productivity or spend massive person-hours and money updating and patching internal infrastructure on the weekends. With cloud applications, patching and infrastructure updates are handled by a third-party.

In addition, the Office 365 service level agreement (SLA) guarantees you 99% uptime. Should the company fail to deliver, you could be eligible for refunds.

How Often Does Office 365 Fail?

It’s a common misconception that large technology organizations like Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and others that host SaaS applications never have outages. As a matter of fact, all three suffer from occasional outages (let’s be honest - every company does now and then). This greatly affects productivity for any organization that relies on them for sales and revenue.

Let’s take, for instance, the fact that Microsoft’s Office 365 platform suffered a two-day outage that affected Outlook and Exchange servers. Exchange is the Microsoft service that delivers and receives email for users, so organizations that used the service could not send or receive emails. This created critical productivity downtime for any business that leveraged Microsoft for email.

Gartner estimates that downtime costs organizations an average of $5,600 per minute. This translates to over $300,000 an hour affecting business revenue and continuity. For large organizations, this cost could be even higher. In other words, what seems like a simple outage could be revenue-impacting across every department, from sales and their ability to perform customer acquisitions, to finance departments that can’t invoice customers.

Using Service Level Agreements To Your Advantage

Microsoft publishes statistics for their uptime for every quarter. You’ll notice that they occasionally miss SLA guarantees. It’s not uncommon for organizations to ignore SLAs and not consider that they could get compensation from Microsoft for missing their promised targets. That’s a huge mistake that costs those organizations a hefty amount of money.  

Never fear - you don’t have to fall into that trap. You can use SLAs to your advantage by monitoring Office 365.

Monitoring Office 365 can benefit your organization by allowing you to failover during downtime to preserve productivity and, at the same time, keep track of Microsoft’s failure to reach their SLAs. Even undetected downtime could result in compensation for your organization!

In some cases, downtime originates from local infrastructure failure. In that case, monitoring Office 365 enables you to know when users can’t access their files and productivity tools.

By understanding whether downtime is caused by Microsoft’s outage or from internal infrastructure failure, your IT staff can better respond to issues. Time is of the essence if you want to keep downtime costs low. Having a strong monitoring program enables you to speed up remediation should an issue stem from internal sources.

What Can Office 365 Monitoring Offer Your Enterprise?

Performance of applications - whether on-premise or remote - are critical to an organization’s revenue. Performance affects every aspect of business operations, from sales to finance and beyond.

If you don’t monitor your SaaS applications, your business’ performance can definitely take a hit, stemming from causes such as:

  • Malfunctioning internal network infrastructure.
  • Internet service provider downtime.
  • Third-party SaaS application or platform issues.
  • Misconfigured or malfunctioning user devices.

Monitoring Office 365 can’t solve these problems, but it can provide notifications so your IT staff can act quickly to remediate the situation if it’s local or find ways to use a failover alternative to give users the option to use a workaround. This can help employees maintain productivity temporarily while downtime is remediated.

Downtime doesn’t always come from complete crashes from the system. Performance can also be an issue. Slow SaaS applications can time out intermittently and increase the time it takes for a user to perform work functions.

Monitoring Office 365 lets you know that the SaaS application is experiencing performance issues so IT staff can alert users to ongoing issues. Users can then choose to work with another application in the interim or continue working on other projects until slowness is no longer hindering their work functions.

A few other ways monitoring Office 365 can help:

  • IT staff know issues before being flooded with trouble tickets and complaints from users.
  • IT operations avoid wasteful troubleshooting to isolate root cause of application malfunctions by chasing local network problems or misconfigurations.
  • Users can be notified that IT is aware of issues and are working on the issues.
  • The organization can track Microsoft’s SLAs for each SaaS service and collect payment for any unmet SLAs.
  • The organization can save money on downtime by alerting IT so they can swiftly respond to issues.

Conclusion

Have SaaS applications? Already monitoring your internal infrastructure? If this sounds like you, then you already know from reading this article that it’s time to consider adding SaaS monitoring tools into your program.

Microsoft Office 365 has several benefits, but it can cost you in the long run if your users have to battle against downtime. Monitoring the SaaS application is a straightforward remedy for the problem. Ultimately, it will save you costs and headaches, and allow your organization to stay flexible and pivot even if the application should suffer from downtime or performance issues.

Check out Catchpoint's SaaS Experience Monitoring solution to see how we can help you achieve true end-to-end visibility.

Published on
Dec 13, 2018
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updated on
September 13, 2021
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