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In a cloud services world the quality of your network connectivity can make or break user experiences. Microsoft publishes best practices and principles of network connectivity to support customers with this work. We are making a broadly available preview available today for test tooling that identifies how well these principles are followed in the Microsoft 365 Admin Center and in the standalone Microsoft 365 network connectivity test tool.
Microsoft 365 Admin Center network connectivity functionality is available as public preview from today. Any customer in the worldwide commercial service can go to the Health -> Network Connectivity menu blade and request access to the preview. Preview acceptance is typically immediate, and participation has no impact to your organization outside access to these new pages.
In the network connectivity pages you can see a network assessment that evaluates the impact of your network design on user experience in a 0 – 100 scale. This is calculated based on network attributes which have been proven through support cases to affect user experience the most. The network assessment is best evaluated at a specific office location, but an organization wide network assessment is also provided. The organization wide network assessment is also included in your productivity score. In addition, specific network insights are provided which identify network design improvements that could be made to align with the published network connectivity principles and improve network performance.
Office location identification options
It’s important to have network design configured well at each office location. We have three alternatives for you to associate the network tests with your office locations.
- You can enable Windows Location Services and consent to it on each client machine. The network telemetry in Microsoft 365 clients will detect this and will round it to a maximum accuracy of 300m x 300m before use. Reports are provided for your organization aggregated to the city resolution. This method of office location detection is relatively automatic but does require your corporate policy to allow for Windows Location Services to be enabled on client machines.
- Alternatively, you can enter each office location and specify the LAN Subnet used at that location. Because LAN Subnets need to be unique within your WAN for routing purposes, we can correlate network test measurements with the office locations you have entered. This has the added advantage that you are not limited to a single office location in each City, but you can monitor multiple so long as you enter the LAN Subnets separately.
- A third method for office location identification is more manual where you can have a user at each office location run a set of tests which are submitted back to your organization. This single test result collected by the Microsoft 365 network connectivity test tool is then used to be representative of the office location. One advantage of the stand-alone test tool is that the test will show up immediately in the admin center because there is no overnight aggregation required.
Whichever method you choose for office location identification, you will get the same rich reporting, network assessments, and network insights provided to help improve your network design.
Microsoft 365 network connectivity test tool
Microsoft 365 network connectivity test (http://connectivity.office.com) is also now in preview and enables sign-in to the users tenant and several ways to share test reports.
We are planning for a supported general availability release of these tools in the North American winter. Please share your feedback with us as we continue to improve on them.
As announced at last year’s Ignite conference, we’ve partnered with Cisco to bring a new feature to Microsoft 365 which we are calling “informed network routing.” This feature will allow for SD-WAN branch routers to select the best possible path for Microsoft 365 traffic, going beyond the traditional simplistic ping or HTTP probe, and now allowing direct integration of a feedback channel directly from the major applications that make up the Microsoft 365 service including Exchange, Teams, and SharePoint. This means that branch routers can now understand the end-user experience across these applications within the scope of the branch, allowing for quick response to any network quality issues that may occur on an individual path. An initial private preview of this technology is now in progress, and we look forward to announcing a broader preview in the coming weeks, as well as further industry partnerships to extend the availability of this technology.
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Brought to you by Dr. Ware, Microsoft Office 365 Silver Partner, Charleston SC.