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Troubleshooting and Assuring Microsoft SaaS App Performance

By Ian Waters
| | 9 min read


Microsoft 365 voice, video, and real-time collaboration functionalities require SaaS monitoring for optimal troubleshooting.

With our applications in the cloud, and our visibility limited to the data center, it's nearly impossible to keep end user experiences positive and productive. Even before everything changed in 2020, enterprise SaaS (software-as-a-service) applications like Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams were essential to employee productivity. Now, they're absolutely critical services in the new enterprise reality that's taking shape.

So, what exactly is this reality? It's one where the cloud is the new data center. The Internet is the new network. And SaaS is the new app stack.

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Renters' Reality 

Organizations don't own SaaS apps. They merely rent them from providers. As a result, IT doesn't have access to them, can't control them, and can't customize them. Simply put, that means IT has limited visibility in our new reality and even less control. With employees so reliant on these apps and IT struggling to troubleshoot issues remotely, you can see why so many user experiences might fall short.

In spite of all this, SaaS adoption shows no sign of slowing down. According to Gartner, SaaS spending will increase by nearly $23 billion from 2021 to 2022.1 That’s a lot of 20s, I know.

Cloud-based apps can deliver the scalability, reach, and performance organizations want for a new generation of hybrid workers. Yet, for SaaS to remain successful, IT will need to find a way to overcome this monumental troubleshooting challenge. In other words, they will need to replace the siloed visibility they currently have with end-to-end visibility into a far more extended infrastructure with a far more complex architecture. That infrastructure includes the Internet with its multiple ISPs, both the apps and supporting infrastructure within SaaS provider networks, as well as the local ISPs and WiFi equipment within the remote employee working environment. That's a long haul and a lot to see.

Making Microsoft Collaboration Smarter 

When using Microsoft SaaS apps, users often pass through 10 to 20 hops of Microsoft infrastructure just to reach the app. In addition, performance needs vary by application, and user experiences vary by region. However, legacy monitoring tools fail to cover the breadth and depth of functionalities included in Microsoft 365, including voice, video, and real-time collaboration platforms, limiting visibility into the user experience.

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The unfortunate truth, without such visibility, is that IT views troubleshooting in the SaaS environment as a "best-effort" proposition. Meaning they can't perform proactive monitoring. They can't always isolate the source of performance issues. And, when it comes to relying on each hop in the chain to perform as expected, they're seemingly crossing their fingers.

The good news is, ThousandEyes now has a way for IT to ensure that users get the best experience.

With ThousandEyes, enterprises can now make the most of their SaaS investments and demystify the operational backend of SaaS services. And IT can gain the visibility and the insight into SaaS apps like Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams that they need to monitor performance, troubleshoot faster, and improve user experiences. 

Troubleshooting Sluggish SaaS

To be more specific, I'll outline four ways that ThousandEyes enables IT to troubleshoot issues and ensure SaaS app performance.

  1. First up is the ability to establish visibility strategies for each different Microsoft application, whether it be Teams, Outlook, SharePoint, and so on. Before SaaS apps became popular, IT could simply insert a line of code into an app to monitor its performance. Not anymore with SaaS apps because, as I've mentioned, the company doesn't control the apps. So, when something new goes wrong, it's hard to know the cause of the issue. IT has, essentially, given up control into its most critical applications in favor of SaaS flexibility and scalability.

    ThousandEyes monitoring agents do what those lines of code used to do: allow IT to monitor app performance. So now, IT can assess the business criticality of each Microsoft application and prioritize the level of monitoring needed based on that assessment. They can then reassess the levels at periodic intervals.

  2. The second way ThousandEyes helps is by presenting IT with complete, end-to-end visibility of the application delivery path. Now IT can visualize a user's journey through the network and get new insight into their experience. And because IT can see every hop and every provider along the way, they can set a baseline for each component within the private networks, the Internet, and the cloud provider infrastructures. So, when an issue arises, it's easy to check performance against the various baselines.

  3. ThousandEyes helps IT become proactive, as well. With a deeper understanding of how the network backbone performs and how users are entering the Microsoft edge, IT can deliver far superior user support with proactive alerting, reporting, and collaboration on performance issues.

  4. The fourth and final way ThousandEyes comes in handy is that it lets IT assess performance in the remote office environment. This capability enables IT to quickly set up tests to troubleshoot user issues proactively, thereby ensuring productivity. As for troubleshooting, it is now possible down to the individual level, allowing for evaluation of local ISP performance, WiFi equipment performance, and so on. IT can even appraise an end user's ability to make informed network choices between the VPN, WiFi, and Ethernet.

Now, you might be asking yourself, "Okay, but how exactly does ThousandEyes make all of this happen?" The secret is in our ability to visually harness and present complex data so that IT can quickly isolate and address performance issues.

Bringing Together Distributed Vantage Points

ThousandEyes deploys distributed monitoring agents to bring together multiple vantage points to provide end-to-end network visibility. Our Enterprise Agents monitor network activity from the inside to help IT better understand connectivity and traffic from the data center to the public cloud, DC, and VPN Gateway. Our Cloud Agents give you access to performance data from local transit providers and last-mile ISPs to simulate end user performance. IT can then determine if performance issues originate from within the corporate network, assets the company controls, or assets beyond its control, such as SaaS applications or the Internet itself. Lastly, our Endpoint Agents, installed on employee laptops and desktops, monitor activity from the end user perspective. That way, IT can view the digital experience from their eyes.

Global 2000 companies, Fortune 500 companies, and top SaaS companies around the world are already partnering with ThousandEyes to make SaaS application performance monitoring and troubleshooting possible. You could soon join them. If you'd like to see ThousandEyes in action for yourself, schedule a demo or request your free trial.

1 Gartner Press Release, “Gartner Forecasts Worldwide Public Cloud End-User Spending to Grow 23% in 2021,” April 21, 2021. https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2021-04-21-gartner-forecasts-worldwide-public-cloud-end-user-spending-to-grow-23-percent-in-2021
Calculation performed by Cisco based on Gartner stat.
GARTNER is a registered trademark and service mark of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally and is used herein with permission. All rights reserved.

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