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Introduction

Microsoft 365 client applications such as Outlook, OneDrive,  and Teams are standalone programs that perform the bulk of the resource and workload processing on a user’s computer. Data retrieval and verification for these applications happen on the client-side, and communication with the server is not continuous. Exoprise customers worldwide use the Office 365 client apps to manage their daily routine and work productively from home, HQ, or branch offices. While IT prefers thin client and web-based SaaS due to ease of deployment and management, end users often prefer the speed, responsiveness, and offline capability of thick client apps.

For many years, customers have asked for the ability to monitor Microsoft 365 client apps in real-time. And now, with the latest release of Exoprise Service Watch, we are providing end-to-end network visibility into the response time and performance for applications like Outlook, OneDrive, Zoom, WebEx, Teams and more. Read on for more details.

Why is it Important to Monitor Microsoft 365 Client Apps?

While Microsoft continues to push the envelope with its rich SaaS and Web-based applications, the fact remains that employees will continue to use client applications like Outlook, Teams, Zoom, and Cisco’s WebEx. Employee experience is ubiquitous in all industries, so monitoring and diagnosing network issues of is of paramount importance to ensuring employee productivity. Exoprise Service Watch collects machine performance data in detailed metrics and KPIs to measure the application experience of multiple end-users spread geographically across multiple regions. Analysis of end-user experience data enables the support team to monitor and understand all interactions between users, thick client applications, local LAN, ISPs and the servers they are dependent on.

When users report that Microsoft Outlook is slow or OneDrive for Business is slow how does your organization go about diagnosing the issue? You need a monitoring tool that will provide the performance monitoring data and crowd-sourcing that enables IT support staff and network administrators quickly resolve the situation. Service Watch, for digital experience monitoring of endpoints and browsers is just such a solution.

How does Exoprise Help?

Exoprise Service Watch monitors the overall desktop experience including application network and resource consumption for ALL of the Microsoft 365 client apps like Outlook, OneDrive, Teams. In addition Service Watch can also monitor other business critical collaboration apps like WebEx, Zoom, RingCentral, custom client-server applications that can be specified by customers.

Exoprise Service Watch captures thousands of detailed application and system metrics in near real time without having to install crash prone device drivers. Service Watch has minimal overhead on a machine, usually less than 1% of CPU utilization. And, like the rest of the Exoprise platform, there are no servers to install, databases to maintain, and the service was designed from the ground up to be hardened and cloud secure.

For the purposes of diagnosing Microsoft 365 client applications, critical network statistics are captured from the Windows kernel, aggregated, and uploaded:

  • Response Time or Round Trip Time (RTT), calculated in milliseconds (ms), is critical to the way TCP/IP works and measures latency from the endpoint (desktop) all the way through to the servers that an application is communicating with. Round trip time metrics as seen by the networking kernel affect how packets of data will be sent, the spacing and transmission retry algorithms in case of packet loss or network congestion. High latency, typically response times or RTT’s greater than 50 milliseconds, will make an application feel sluggish and cause long wait times.

When the network path between client applications like Outlook or Microsoft Teams suffer long round trip times (high latency) to Microsoft’s data centers, Exchange Servers, or Teams Servers (respectively),  the employee’s digital experience will correspondingly suffer. Long email retrieval and delivery times, dropped or poor quality audio calls, employee’s lose productivity and become dissatisfied with their work experience.

  • Packet Loss is a common phenomenon that occurs when packets sent over a network or the Internet fail to reach their intended destination due to operational issues such as network disruption, poor connectivity, traffic congestion, and slow service. Tracking this performance metric is critical, especially when working on real-time packet processing applications like Microsoft Teams and those that support VoIP and video conferencing. Packet loss greatly impairs the quality of online video meetings, and business suffers as productivity diminishes. Even a small packet loss of 2% can cause jitters in audio/video conversations and make them unintelligible. In addition, packet loss can be expensive by slowing down network speeds, causing bottlenecks, and throwing off network bandwidth and throughput consumption.

Streaming video services simultaneously on Zoom, RingCentral, WebEx, or other collaboration platforms on a LAN can inhibit response times and impact end-user experience. Similarly, a DDOS attack will overwhelm a server with requests it needs to respond to, leading to an increase in RTT for remote workers. Another scenario could be when there are multiple nodes between two endpoints. If a node experiences traffic congestion, sending and receiving emails could take a while.

  • WiFi Signal Strength and Degradation is often the culprit when it comes to poor response time and network congestion. Over the past year the incidence of poor WiFi signal strength on employee shared home networks were the cause of many dropped Zoom and Teams meeting calls. Exoprise can monitor WiFi and LAN signal strength along with their cause and affect on application TCP/IP response times. Additionally, Exoprise can pinpoint the offending hop in when diagnosing poor network performance so IT can assist in correcting network slow downs.

Service Watch Desktop (SWD) provides the ability to effectively track and monitor application performance with its latest network visibility solution. The “App Network Performance (TCP)” tab shown below is the newest product feature update from Q2 2021 that provides IT additional clues and insights into response time and packet loss for Microsoft thick-client apps. As part of the reliable delivery mechanism for TCP, the response time metrics collected are the same ones that the Windows kernel uses to measure the Maximum Transmission Unit (MTU).

In addition, crowd-sourced benchmark analytics immediately reveal if the issue is localized or with the global audience, thus cutting the problem in half. Correlate these data points with composite metrics (CPU, Wi-Fi signal, memory, and system) to quickly diagnose, visualize dependencies, and troubleshoot network performance/desktop root cause issues at the remote workforce end. Admins can easily configure SWD to monitor any other collaboration or RTC application in use by the company.

Monitor Microsoft 365 network performance
Service Watch collecting response time and packet loss statistics in real-time

The Ultimate Goal is Superior Experience

Whether using thin or thick client apps on user devices, IT needs always to think ahead and manage end-user experience expectations. Charting this goal is not impossible with the Exoprise Service Watch Desktop RUM solution which provides tools to perform problem triage with end-to-end visibility of the entire application landscape. The SWD layouts and widgets offer drill-down capabilities to locate and dig deeper into individual network transactions for isolating and resolving the root cause of Microsoft 365 performance issues. For employees using thick-client apps such as Outlook, OneDrive, or Teams, assure quality digital experience and track the impact on productivity and business revenue with response time and packet loss metrics. Foster a monitoring strategy to detect desktop and network problems faster in an IT environment.

Register for a free 15-day trial. Deploy up to 25 and 50 Service Watch Desktop and Service Watch Browser licenses, respectively, for free. Get started today!

Team Exoprise

Team Exoprise represents multiple people in the engineering, sales and marketing department here at Exoprise. It takes a village.

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