Written by Nick Cavalancia, Microsoft Cloud & Datacenter MVP
The increase in reliance upon Office 365 as an organization’s digital workspace has led many organizations to measure Office 365 against how well users interact with it rather than if it’s running.
IT has traditionally been tasked with providing the technology needed to meet the business needs of the organization with a high degree of availability. The Service Level Agreement (SLA) has long been a standard way to measure whether IT is meeting the organization’s needs or not, spelling out what kind of uptime can be guaranteed, response times when issues arise, etc. In the same manner, Microsoft does offer an SLA for its Office 365 customers, providing clear guidance on what uptime guarantees go along with their services.
But many organizations are realizing that for most users, issues with Office 365 aren’t so much about whether it is functional and available as a whole, but rather whether the end-to-end experience using it is helping them be productive. This has led to the creation of an Experience Level Agreement. In the context of Office 365, an Experience Level Agreement works to address service quality issues (e.g., poor performance, slow responsiveness, lack of ability to use a particular function of a larger service, etc.), including service outages.
There are 4 reasons why organizations are looking to an Experience Level Agreement over an SLA to address Office 365 usage:
1. The Microsoft SLA doesn’t address service quality
Microsoft’s Online Services SLA revolves almost exclusively with service availability, providing customers with a service credit should a given online service (Office 365 or otherwise) be unavailable. But let’s say the service is up the entire time, but users are seeing long logon times or are having call quality issues within Teams – what then? An Experience Level Agreement provides the organization with a better measurement of not just whether users can access a given Office 365 service, but whether they are getting the most out of it.
2. There’s so much more involved besides just the Microsoft services
A user’s experience with Office 365 is made up of so much more than just the Microsoft side of the equation; the user’s device, method of connectivity, Internet connection, the route to the Microsoft cloud, use of a VPN, internal network route and latency… as well as the networking components, infrastructure, individual servers and services related to delivering Office 365 services are all involved when determining service quality. Because of this, simply using Microsoft’s SLA won’t encompass all the factors that can influence whether users are productively using Office 365.
3. There are ways to measure user experience
Traditionally, the user experience has been something very subjective; for example, what’s considered responsive when opening a document on OneDrive to one use may be slow to another. But recent developments in synthetic transaction technology allow organizations to simulate user interactions with Office 365, thereby taking the concept of “experience” from something subjective to something measured and metric-based. IT now has the ability to see things like a slowdown of authentication times or drop in call quality – making an Experience Level Agreement something that can be measured.
4. Internal IT can actually do something about service quality
The problem isn’t always Microsoft; it can be an issue with internal routing that requires even outbound Office 365 traffic to be scanned by a security solution before leaving the corporate network which adds to the latency experienced by a user. Having visibility via synthetic transactions into what users in different locations, using different networks, methods of connectivity, etc. IT has the ability to determine root cause and, if the problem is something internal (e.g., a poorly performing router), they can work to resolve the issue.
For those organizations heavily reliant upon Office 365, it’s important to shift focus from simple up/down thinking about Microsoft’s services to considering the quality of the experience each user within the organization is having when interacting with Office 365. The ability to leverage synthetic transactions to measure the user experience gives IT the visibility needed to quantify service delivery at many levels, allowing IT to provide the organization with an Experience Level Agreement which, in turn works to provide faster response times, improved service quality, and more productive users.
Interested in finding out more about Experience Level Agreements and how to measure it against Microsoft 365? Watch our Guaranteeing Microsoft 365 Service Delivery webinar on-demand!
Get the answers from Microsoft Cloud and Datacenter MVP, Nick Cavalancia, and VP of Product Management at Martello, Rob Doucette, as they discuss:
- Experience Level Agreement Basics: Why organizations are ditching the SLA for an Experience Level Agreement in the cloud
- Why a Microsoft 365 Experience Level Agreement is a better choice than an SLA
- How can you practically measure and maintain an Experience Level Agreement with Microsoft 365