IT Pros – Have you ever wondered about the quality of your users’ network/Internet connections when troubleshooting potential connectivity issues? Microsoft frequently hears from you that you’re concerned about your users’ performance and experience using all the cloud-based Microsoft 365 services. I mean, there are a lot of variables that go into how long it takes for that email in Outlook on the web to open. Your users’ Internet connections, their ISP’s general status and reliability, Microsoft’s global Internet/network status… there are countless points of failure between your client’s computer and Microsoft’s infrastructure. I’m sure you would be delighted to be able to measure the quality of your users’ connections.
Well, Microsoft is making it easier to help narrow down the root cause of when things go awry. If you don’t today, you should all see a new feature in the Microsoft 365 admin center very soon!
In the Microsoft 365 admin center, along the left category list, choose Health -> Network connectivity.
Microsoft 365 admin center network connectivity
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Using existing network connectivity tests in Microsoft 365 can provide peace of mind when assessing this aspect of your company’s use of these services. These are aggregated to represent the network connectivity of a work location in use by a Microsoft 365 customer. This can be very helpful when identifying potential Internet or network performance improvements that would help all of your users’ experiences with Microsoft 365.
After you configure your office locations using this tool, the page for network connectivity in the Microsoft 365 admin center shows how network reliability is evaluated. Each location shows the relative number of users connecting to the office and their impact on your overall user experience at that location. Microsoft can provide a global performance map, tenant-wide scores, and location-specific scores to help you pinpoint any trouble spots.
Network Plan for Auckland, New Zealand
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The Microsoft 365 network connectivity test tool allows you to perform similar tests on demand for instant results! The connectivity test tool allows your users at remote locations to run networking tests in their web browser and with a downloadable executable. It identifies common network design issues against Microsoft’s established best practices. If there are overall design violations found, your users can log in with their Microsoft 365 account to share these results directly with you and your team of administrators.
Microsoft 365 network connectivity test tool
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Actionable network insights supporting your users’ experience
Microsoft offers you guidance in securely optimizing your overall network connectivity to best suit your Microsoft 365 experience. The goal of these two main tools is to help test for general network performance, latency, and robustness in providing you recommendations to optimize. Here are a few examples of what insights these tools can offer you:
- Insight: Backhauled network egress – this is shown for a location when the users are more than 500 miles away from the network egress. It is recommended that users have local network egress so that connections can be made to the closest Microsoft network point of presence.
- Insight: Network intermediary device – this is shown for a location when the users are connecting to Microsoft 365 through a proxy server or similar packet interception device. It is recommended that these be bypassed for critical Microsoft 365 network connections.
- Insight: Better performance detected for customers near you – this is shown for a location where a number of other Microsoft 365 customers in the same geographic area have significantly better performance. More investigation would be needed, but this indicates the local telecommunications infrastructure can provide a better experience than your users are seeing.
- Insight: Low download speed from SharePoint front door – this indicates that the download speed of OneDrive for Business or SharePoint users is very poor in this location. Further investigation may be required to identify the cause, but often bandwidth can be increased to improve user experience.
The network insights in the Microsoft 365 admin center are based on regular in-product measurements for your Microsoft 365 tenant, which are aggregated each day. In comparison, the network insights from the Microsoft 365 network connectivity test are run locally and one time in the tool. Testing that can be done in-product is limited and by running test locally to the user more data can be gathered resulting in deeper insights. Be advised that the network insights in the Microsoft 365 admin center will show networking problems for use of Microsoft 365 at a specific office location. The Microsoft 365 connectivity test can help to track down and identify the root cause of that problem leading to a recommended network performance improvement action.
Note: Network insights, performance recommendations, and assessments in the Microsoft 365 admin center are currently in preview status and are only available for Microsoft 365 tenants that have been enrolled in the feature preview program.
Other network insights can be found here -> Microsoft 365 network insights
I ran the network connectivity test tool on my desktop computer (at home) to get some real-world results. (Personally identifiable information (Pii) has been camouflaged)
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And here is a snippet of the results from the local tool.
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I also ran the tool from a workstation located at my company’s headquarters. Here is an example of some of those results.
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After you’ve gathered more of these data points, across more geographically diverse areas, you’ll be able to establish a baseline of sorts to look back on for your entire organization. Your network assessment score can be a key metric to share with your CIO to keep them abreast of any issues with any of your key strategic locations in terms of network and Internet performance with your crucial Microsoft 365 services!
It is worth noting that all of the tests and insights produced by the network assessment tool are in strict compliance with Microsoft security and privacy best practices. Security-conscious customers can rest assured that the tests do not collect any user or device identifiable information.
Here are a few more links to provide more detailed documentation on how these tools work and what value they can provide you and your organization:
Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions about how the tool works, thank you!