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Microsoft Teams Optimization for a Remote Workforce

Microsoft Teams Optimization for a Remote Workforce, Exoprise Systems

What the Surge? Microsoft Teams is everywhere. Not surprisingly, during the pandemic, the number of daily active users for Teams increased to 75 million in 2020. More and more people are WFH and companies are becoming virtual. Personal meetings are fading now, and Teams poises to become the next best collaboration tool. According to a Riverbed study, 64% of US employees are now working from home because of the Covid pandemic. In turn, Microsoft Teams optimization has become a critical topic for Operations and Network personnel.

As work shifts to a new environment setting, executives report that at least half of their distributed workforce consistently experiences poor experiences with SaaS apps they use. The phenomenal growth of Teams has resulted in video call rates increasing by over 1000% in recent months. However, outages have found a way to plague Teams causing disruptions during meetings and broadcasts. In this unprecedented era, the continued success of Teams operations relies on monitoring and managing quality metrics in real-time.

Monitoring Outside the Control Zone Microsoft Teams optimization for the end-user experience for WFH employees requires a comprehensive strategy for measuring four critical parameters – transit quality, bandwidth, capacity, and frequent change. IT needs to quickly determine what affects users, and whether the problem lies with Teams or within their network (VPN firewall, proxy, gateways, etc.). Nevertheless, achieving this task is difficult if monitoring is outside the control zone.

Employees are geographically distributed, and endpoints differ in each home setting. Connecting to Teams or various SaaS services requires multiple networks and protocols and each connection has a different network configuration. Consequently, this presents a unique challenge for IT as they have no visibility and zero control. Yet, IT is accountable for ensuring that business-critical enterprise applications are up and running and end-users have the best experience.

Connecting to Teams Architecture As enterprises continue to hire remote employees for diversity, it becomes critical to understand how these employees log into the Teams infrastructure. A typical Microsoft Teams call meeting has a host and several participants. Considering this, one must evaluate success factors in terms of the locations where all the participants will be joining vs where the host would be streaming AV from.

When a meeting participant connects from India to a host meeting in the US, the participant connects to the nearest Microsoft media/relay server from their location through the nearest front door into the Azure backbone infrastructure. The host starts the video, and this traffic leads back to the participants via the same route. Before optimizing Teams performance, it becomes critical to understand baseline metrics at these sites where IT can observe the real-time quality of AV.

Even the Best Fail at Times But can Microsoft Call Quality Dashboard (CQD) tool help achieve baseline goals? CQD can provide a snapshot of data quality during the assessment phase by keeping tabs on each user, each call, and each meeting. Moreover, as networks and underlying infrastructure change, this impacts Teams experience for everyone. New changes include additional capacity, gateways, accelerators, SD-WAN, etc. while others can be due to a human error component. CQD warns only after a change has improved or deteriorated and remote workers continue to experience issues.

What CQD lacks is collecting data from real Teams sessions in real-time from critical vantage points. In the event of an outage, call failure, or poor AV quality, the IT team needs proactive notifications. By providing instant access to hop-by-hop context data, support teams can quickly identify if the actual problem lies with Microsoft, ISP, or own network.

Teams Optimization Performance Metrics Latency, packet loss, jitter, bandwidth, service quality, etc. are few metrics to measure when it comes to Teams. Gaining better control of these metrics can contribute to a superior experience. However, CQD displays outdated evaluation data and impairs decision making for IT who are concerned if their network can deliver the metrics consistently and not just during the assessment.

The fallout from this is expecting calls from irate customers having issues logging in or with poor Teams AV quality. There should be an easier and preferred way for IT to quickly determine whether they are meeting their call quality goals. Below are basic benchmarks for delivering an optimal Teams experience.

Mean (avg) Audi Jitter < 20ms Round Trip Latency < 100ms Packet Loss < 1% Audio Bandwidth > 100Kbps Video Bandwidth > 300 Kbps

CloudReady to the Rescue CloudReady synthetic monitoring delivers Teams metrics data in real-time, enabling IT to easily estimate availability, uptime, and performance. Below is a screenshot that shows exactly what readings are for these critical metrics, and their respective numbers. Companies can now confidently respond to whether they are effectively meeting remote, WFH, and branch office employee experience needs.

By using sensors at strategic vantage points that are met every few minutes, CloudReady captures real-time end-to-end communication statistics 24*7 and 365 days a year. The number of sensors a company needs to deploy depends on how far it needs to cast a network to raise the alarm about any problems. IT can start immediately by simply deploying a few sensors in the data center, at headquarters, or for remote employees from any Windows machine on any network and immediately gain insights. If a problem happens and there are no issues reported from vantage points, then Microsoft is the main culprit.

Teams Optimization and Performance Metrics Testing before changes (for baselines), after changes (to confirm if any new network upgrades improved or broke the benchmark), and continuous monitoring in production, becomes a central part of IT monitoring strategy. But exceptionally when outages occur, Exoprise treats them better than others. A few days ago, and as always, CloudReady detected the Exchange Online and Microsoft 365 issue 2 hours before Microsoft acknowledged the problem on their site.

Teams AV testing under conditions (public or private sites) that reflect exactly what end-users are experiencing establishes the monitoring and troubleshooting process as more valuable. Monitoring of Teams WebRTC/AV stats from cloud sites is not realistic while everyone works from home today. On the other hand, Teams messaging, and availability monitoring of Teams run from Exoprise global public vantage sites.

For WFH employees, the combination of CloudReady and Service Watch helps to provide a complete overview of the user experience along with a high-level insight into the health of the network infrastructure. Because organizations need scale and reliability, both techniques can eliminate guesswork, resolve visibility, reduce MTTR and establish a solid monitoring foundation to a greater extent.

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[WEBINAR] Work Anywhere: Ensuring Superior Digital Experiences with Synthetics AND Real User Monitoring Featuring Forrester

[WEBINAR] Work Anywhere: Ensuring Superior Digital Experiences with Synthetics AND Real User Monitoring Featuring Forrester

Upcoming Webinar Featuring Forrester and Exoprise, April 21st Register With technology now the daily lifeline between employees, companies, and customers the need to use both synthetic and Real User Monitoring (RUM) for the complete digital employee experience picture has become mission-critical. Proactive notifications and baseline benchmarks require synthetic monitoring of SaaS/Network/ISP services. Always-on, everywhere coverage with easily deployed RUM has become a necessity to ensure uptime and cloud service success. On April 21, 2021, Exoprise Founder and CEO, Jason Lieblich, will host a conversational webinar featuring guest speaker Forrester Senior Analyst, Andrew Hewitt, for discussion on the evolution of digital experience management in the future of work. Attendees of this webinar will better understand: Key trends in the experience management space How to leverage Real User and Synthetic monitoring together to ensure excellent Digital Experiences Importance of benchmarking Microsoft 365, Teams, Salesforce, and ALL of your SaaS performance Best practices for improving internal experience management Andrew Hewitt Sr Analyst, Forrester Andrew is a senior analyst serving infrastructure and operations professionals. Andrew’s research focuses on helping companies improve the technology experience of their employees. Specifically, his coverage area focuses on all the key components of the digital workspace, such as enterprise mobility, traditional client computing (Windows, macOS, and ChromeOS), unified endpoint management (UEM), virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), end-user experience management, bring your own device (BYOD), and device as a service (DaaS). Jason Lieblich Founder and CEO, Exoprise As a founder of multiple technology companies, Jason has an extensive track record of success with over 20 years of experience in distributed systems management, networking and security solutions. Prior to founding Exoprise, Jason served as Vice President and Chief Technology Officer in the Virtualization and Management Division at Citrix, where he helped design, develop, and deliver advanced virtualization management and monitoring solutions for the XenApp, XenDesktop, and XenServer product lines.

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Microsoft MVP Steve Goodman calls Exoprise CloudReady the top monitoring tool for Microsoft 365

Microsoft MVP Steve Goodman calls Exoprise CloudReady the top monitoring tool for Microsoft 365

Waltham, MA — February 17, 2021 — Exoprise, the leading provider of Digital Experience Monitoring (DEM) solution for ALL of Microsoft 365, and other SaaS applications, announced today that its CloudReady synthetic monitoring solution has earned the TechGenix Gold Star award by Microsoft MVP Steve Goodman. The review highlights Exoprise CloudReady as one of the leading choices for monitoring Microsoft 365, SaaS, and third-party applications such as ServiceNow, Okta, Salesforce, etc. The review praises the solution for its depth of monitoring capabilities and data collection for Microsoft Teams Audio Video. Remarkably, the product review also notes how quickly Exoprise can detect cloud service issues even before Microsoft realizes there is one! Exoprise CEO Jason Lieblich said, “Exoprise solutions solve the challenges that IT teams of today are facing, that is, gaining end-to-end visibility into remote worker and digital workspace performance so end users remain productive. TechGenix validates our industry position in the market and offers a fresh perspective of our innovative capabilities”. TechGenix offers millions of IT professionals high-quality technical content and review, empowering them with the tools they need to manage and configure their infrastructure. Exoprise partnered with TechGenix to give its readers a chance to thoroughly understand and vet CloudReady synthetics as their preferred monitoring choice and help them accelerate decision making. TechGenix’s review of CloudReady covers the following major areas of interest and comments by Mr. Goodman in his review. Ease of Installation — “By using the Exoprise public sites, it enables you to very quickly deploy and configure global monitoring against your own Microsoft 365 environment.” Actionable Dashboards — “Dashboard information is comprehensive and provides quick insights into current service performance, rolled up across multiple services you monitor, both inside Microsoft 365 and in other supported services.” Multi-Service Monitoring — “Where Exoprise CloudReady appears to have a significant advantage is with the range of services that can be monitored. This appears to be partly based upon the architecture used for many monitoring checks used”. Remote Worker Performance — “The ace card in CloudReady platform is the ability to gain insights into real-users accessing Microsoft 365. However, if a large proportion of the workforce is currently working remotely or from home, the ability to deploy sensors to those devices and gain insight into ISP issues you have no or limited visibility of when they affect access to Microsoft 365 is extremely valuable.” Teams AV Data Collection — “Worth calling out especially is the capabilities for Microsoft Teams. In addition to core collaboration tests for Microsoft Teams, such as the ability to post messages to channels, the CloudReady product includes audio/video tests against the service. This is a valuable test and allows rollup and baseline data to be collected within the CloudReady service from your site locations, rather than collected from Microsoft’s Call Quality dashboard or the Teams Admin Center.” Read the full product review here. Learn more: About Exoprise Exoprise CloudReady empowers IT teams with digital experience management solutions that enable effective adoption and management of mission-critical, cloud-based applications and services. The platform provides real-time performance visibility from behind the firewall to the cloud and back. By leveraging network path diagnostics, real user experience metrics, actual app usage data, and crowdsourced data analytics, organizations now have the visibility, speed, and agility to easily assure the best possible cloud service performance. Visit Exoprise at; on Twitter @exoprise; and LinkedIn. Media Contact Sid Kumar Director of Product Marketing for Exoprise +1 781.209.5653 Originally published at on February 17, 2021.

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