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Microsoft 365 Monitoring FAQ

In an industry where technological evolution is commonplace, it’s easy to get lost in a sea of terminology and acronyms. It’s important to establish a solid foundation of understanding and Martello has developed a ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ section to help. What is real user monitoring? How do you monitor Microsoft Office 365 services? These are some of the questions we examine here.

Enterprises have invested money and time into Modern Workplace solutions to boost productivity and address remote work challenges. However, IT teams have little to no visibility into the performance of services delivered to their branch offices and business lines and therefore are exposed to possible productivity loss. Microsoft 365 is often able to tell you the status of the service inside the Microsoft data center with the exception of Microsoft Teams Voice where end-user performance data is already available through the Microsoft Call Quality Dashboard (CQD) and call analytics. However, this data is not enough to understand why service quality problems are occurring for end-users. You have a blind spot on everything in-between your end-users and the Microsoft cloud. To understand the service quality you are delivering to your sites and business lines, you need a Microsoft 365 observability and monitoring tool that continuously tests the user experience from where your users are located and analyzes the network path performance of the critical users, sites and alerts on every discovered issue. Martello’s Modern Workplace optimization solution for Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams delivers, in partnership with Microsoft, these insights for large Microsoft 365 deployments.

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As Microsoft 365 does not come equipped with end-to-end service quality monitoring capabilities it is necessary to employ a software product that does; enter Martello Vantage DX , which is specifically designed for this. Unlike any other application performance monitoring tool, Vantage DX performs synthetic transactions on Microsoft Teams, Exchange, SharePoint and using Microsoft rich clients – while also testing the network conditions and alerting on real-user experience issues. These 3 pillars make Martello Vantage DX the only observability solution for Microsoft 365 services and the Microsoft-recommended software.

There are several ways to improve the performance of Microsoft 365 services:

  • Detect problems before they impact end-users. This can be achieved by performing 24/7 synthetic transactions from all of your critical sites.
  • Improve your route to the cloud performance by eliminating unnecessary hops and reducing latency between each of them. This can be done with proactive network path testing.
  • Get to the root of issues quickly to mitigate the impact on users. This requires the correlation of data between your users, the network and proactive testing of the service.
  • Empower your ITSM teams with data correlation to streamline service remediation in case issues arise. This can be done through the automatic correlation of alerts into service incidents that are synchronized with your existing ITSM tools.

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First and foremost: get early alerts. Small issues experienced by some users can hint at big problems that could shortly arise. The earlier you detect issues, the faster you can fix them to minimize the impact they will have on end-users. Here is a checklist of items to keep your eye on:

  •  Check user connectivity with Microsoft. For example, bad DNS configuration is a very common single point of failure. Keep in mind that the more hops you have between the user and the Microsoft cloud, the more likely you are to have network latency along the path. You should also make sure that the user is connected to the nearest Microsoft front door. We have seen many customers with suboptimal front door configuration which decreases the overall performance of the service.
  • Check the performance of every hop to detect a potential bottleneck. That can be done with a command like ‘My Traceroute’ when available. With that information you can identify who owns the issue (your company or third parties) and take relevant actions.
  • For Voice performance, check the user device configuration such as: Teams client, Wifi client, Wifi strength, Codec and headset. A large portion of user issues come from the users themselves.
  • Check the performance of your proxy with an independent tool. Proxy providers always claim that their service is perfect which is often the case – but not always.
  • Detect Microsoft outages early. If you do not, then you will be in a ‘war room’ for at least an hour from the beginning of an issue trying to troubleshoot it and the actual Microsoft announcement.

All of this and much more can be managed with Martello Vantage DX.

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Observability and optimization for the Microsoft Modern Workplace refers to a type of monitoring that focuses more on the outcome of a service (end user experience) rather than pure system metrics.

With the growing adoption of SaaS services, observability and user experience monitoring have become critical because most of the server side has been moved to the service provider. When it comes to Office 365, the server side is provided directly by Microsoft in its Service Health portal. But this is not always helpful because you can’t always act on it.

With a Modern Workplace solution, end-user experience monitoring is the first key to service performance because it enables IT to be proactively alerted of issues without users having to open an IT ticket. There are different ways to achieve this outcome, it can be through call records in the case of Microsoft Teams but also can be through synthetic transactions placed at strategic places to continuously measure the health of the service from your critical sites.

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Synthetic transaction monitoring is a way to monitor performance and in the case of Microsoft 365, real user interaction is mimicked – including authentication, calls, meetings, emails, file upload/download, and the use of individual services. These transactions provide organizations with visibility into measured experiential metrics that can be used to identify performance issues and root cause of problems. Since the transactions occur within the very same paths that users themselves take, they offer a real-world view into what users are experiencing well before users have “had enough” and inform IT of an issue. Other forms of monitoring Microsoft 365 performance lack the contextual detail synthetic monitoring can offer, because they typically are relying on bigger picture monitoring metrics (such as the previously mentioned Microsoft 365 health status) that aren’t helpful with, say, attempting to isolate whether it’s your WiFi that is causing a performance issue.

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Real User monitoring consists of collecting performance user data referring to the use of a service to transform it into monitoring data. This includes custom alerts on groups of users (VIP, offices, locations, specific configuration, etc.) and advanced performance warnings that identify the root cause of issues.

Microsoft Teams Call Quality data offers a very good source of data to then perform Real User monitoring. But for that you need a way to transform this data into alerts, to easily group the data cohesively, to display this new information in an understandable way and finally to connect these results with your ITSM tool.

Learn more about Martello’s Vantage DX Microsoft Teams Call Quality Analytics, a Real User monitoring solution.

When there is a problem, IT administrators will start by requesting the user provide their email header, then checking to see whether the issue is widespread amongst the organization or isolated. If they find that the delay is happening on the Office 365 end, they will raise a case with Microsoft to identify the problem. Unfortunately, the Office 365 administrator can’t see the mail queues in the portal, so they aren’t able to proactively identify and fix email delay issues. Martello Vantage DX helps save time and reduce complaints by providing a mail routing end-to-end check associated with an echo mailbox in the cloud that allows administrators to send a test email every five minutes to validate message reception and time. By doing this, Vantage DX helps admins continually understand round-trip time, and be alerted in case of any failures in sending or receiving emails. This lets administrators be proactively notified about delays, and allows them to fix any issues before the end-user even becomes aware of them. Learn more about monitoring emails in Microsoft 365.

Yes, Microsoft Teams can be monitored. Vantage DX combines Real User monitoring (RUM), network path performance analysis and 24/7 proactive synthetic transactions to provide a full picture of Microsoft Teams performance for your VIPs, critical sites and all of your users whether they are remote or at the office. Learn more about how Vantage DX can help you monitor Microsoft Teams.

Cloud and Hybrid deployment for Microsoft Exchange is the norm for very large environments, for several reasons. With a material portion of your messaging residing in the cloud and managed by Microsoft, knowing when and why declines in service quality occur can be a challenge. Our Microsoft Exchange monitoring tool can help you close the visibility gap. Martello is the only MS Exchange monitoring solution that enables hybrid end-user experience monitoring, making sure hybrid services are up and performing well.

Learn more here.

To ensure end-user satisfaction you need to provide Microsoft SharePoint or OneDrive monitoring to maintain the quality of service that is delivered to your sites and business lines. Thanks to the Martello Vantage DX Robot Users, which you can deploy everywhere, you can test your MS SharePoint & OneDrive performance with synthetic transactions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Martello Robots use the Office 365 document management system that is the heart of OneDrive, SharePoint, and Teams. They use it exactly the way a user does. The robots login to the service, create and remove folders, upload and download a selected file. Learn more about our Vantage DX solution to monitor Microsoft SharePoint here.

Microsoft 365 Performance

In an industry where technological evolution is commonplace, it’s easy to get lost in a sea of terminology and acronyms. It’s important to establish a solid foundation of understanding. In the second installment of our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ series, we tackle issues related to effective monitoring, speed, and performance related to Microsoft 365 services.

Whenever a user complains about slowness in accessing a mailbox, IT administrators often suspect it’s due to an issue with the network. Still, they don’t always have enough information to confirm this. Martello Vantage DX can help administrators fix Office 365 issues before users even notice, by pinging the Microsoft endpoint every five minutes. If any packet loss is found, it will immediately notify the admins. Martello also automatically gets the average round-trip time, notifying the admins when the threshold limit is exceeded. Martello checks the DNS query resolution, hop details, and latency, and notifies administrators of all these things when it detects a problem. By proactively monitoring the Microsoft Exchange environment, administrators have the power to identify and resolve issues before any end-user complaints arise.

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By using a single pane of glass solution. Vantage DX is a digital experience analytics platform that brings together metrics and events from multiple monitoring, IT services management, business applications tools into actionable dashboards. Accessible from anywhere from any device, iQ presents a unified view of the infrastructure that supports critical business services for your company.

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Even if Microsoft SharePoint and OneDrive serve a different purpose for users, their backends are continuously merging. There are a lot of moving parts, your route to the cloud, your ISP, your network, and your infrastructure. The Microsoft service itself plays a role in the delivery of service and to add to the complexity, new features of a specific workload like MS Teams can impact the overall performance of another workload such as OneDrive. You need to continuously provide MS SharePoint monitoring and OneDrive monitoring of the quality of service that is delivered to your sites and business lines. Martello Vantage DX utilizes robot users which can be deployed everywhere, allowing you to test OneDrive performance with synthetic transactions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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To understand the health of your services, you need metrics, facts, and alerts. What matters is not really a poor performance but a degradation of the performance, because that is what users perceive. To measure the degradation of performance, you need to know what’s normal. It is called baselining. This requires something that continuously measures the performance delivered to your end-users and that can alert you when the performance is declining. It all comes down to service delivered to your end-users. Whether issues arise from the datacenter or your network, it’s important to monitor and understand what users are experiencing so that you can maintain the highest level of service. Vantage DX focuses on the availability and performance of your Microsoft 365 collaboration environment, in doing so it collects hundreds of statistics critical to measuring the services that you deliver to the business.

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If you have specific questions about digital experience monitoringtroubleshooting Microsoft 365 services, or just want to learn more about monitoring tools such as Martello Vantage DX, and more please contact us directly.

 

Microsoft Teams PSTN

First, you will need at minimum a Microsoft Teams Phone Standard license for any user that will be making or receiving PSTN phone calls. For some licenses (for example E5 orE3) this is bundled with the existing license, but for others it must be purchased as an add on. Once you have a Teams Phone license there are three ways you can enable PSTN calling in Microsoft Teams. Each of them involve a Session Border Controller being used either directly with a customer supplied device and direct routing or as part of a Managed Service with Calling Plans from Microsoft or from a Telco provider via Operator Connect.

  • Calling Plans – this is another add-on SKU to your license which can be purchased as a bundle with the Phone System license.
  • Direct Routing – Provide your own session border controller and SIP trunks.
  • Operator Connect – Operator-provided managed service in which you pay the operator directly, but all management is done through the Microsoft Teams Admin Centre.

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PSTN conferencing gives you a telephone number that meeting attendees can call to attend a Microsoft Teams Conference call.

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PSTN calling isn’t enabled by default in Microsoft Teams so will be off unless enabled.

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To turn on PSTN conferencing in Microsoft Teams, the organizer of the Teams conference must have a license that includes PSTN conferencing. This can be bundled in some licenses but typically is purchased as an add-on for particular users. See here.

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This is determined by the client. When trying to connect, the client will always try to use UDP by default but will fallback to TCP or ICE. Note that Real-time media is data encapsulated within the Real-time Transport Protocol (RTP) that supports audio, video, and screen sharing workloads. In general, media traffic is highly latency sensitive, so you would want this traffic to take the most direct path possible, and to use UDP versus TCP as the transport layer protocol, which is the best transport for interactive real-time media from a quality perspective. (Note that as a last resort, media can use TCP/IP and also be tunneled within the HTTP protocol, but it is not recommended due to bad quality implications.) RTP flow is secured using SRTP, in which only the payload is encrypted.

Reference

PSTN in Microsoft Teams allows users to perform and receive calls from a traditional landline phone network directly through their Microsoft Teams client installed either on their laptop or mobile phone.

There are currently 3 ways to do that: calling plan, Direct routing and operator connect that each has its advantages and drawbacks.
Operator connect now has two different offerings, one for traditional landlines and one for mobile communications.

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This is the capability for a Microsoft Teams user with an appropriate license to be able to call phone users using the traditional landline network called PSTN. This is highly used in contact centers or customer service departments by many companies.

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PSTN usage refers to the number of calls and minutes that are used by users with appropriate licenses.

This data can be available at the SIP trunk level, PSTN carrier, SBC level and Microsoft Teams level.

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Microsoft offers a way to check PSTN usage in their call quality dashboards as well as in some PowerBI templates which are built out of this data.

Session border controller (SBC) providers also have their own Call Detail reports that gather data from every user on their usage of PSTN.

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Resources

Webinar

Operator Connect vs. Direct Routing

Get the Most from Microsoft Teams PSTN Functionality

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eBook

Beyond the Microsoft Teams Call Quality Dashboard

Download this eBook to read insights and have the power to make Microsoft Teams better.

Download now
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