My Cloud Network Readiness Notes for Office 365 and Teams

This post is about some basic aspects of networking for the cloud and where to find some viable resources. I focus on Microsoft Cloud connectivity. However, the requirements are similar to any other cloud services. To me, there are two common question which I always ask before any further (technical) Microsoft / Office 365 planning: What’s your network topology and how do your network metrics look like?
“Nice” and “fine” are some times answers I get, of course that’s not what I want to hear. 😉

Source: https://pixabay.com/illustrations/monitor-binary-binary-system-1307227/

What’s your network topology/design?

By asking this question I want to get insights on the network design, e.g. does the company operate a centralized network and internet connectivity approach?

Example answer: A company got 12 physical locations, buildings or offices in different cities, so geographically dispersed. The company’s headquarter (HQ) is in Stuttgart, Germany. All locations are linked together via MPLS-WAN links to the HQ. Let’s say a star topology is operated. All internet traffic is routed via HQ and breaks out centrally.

Source: https://pixabay.com/photos/network-earth-block-chain-globe-3524352/

How do your network metrics look like?

Very often companies do not have network metrics, no long-term metrics (2 weeks+) and no networking reporting to easily visualize and get insights on past and as-is network traffic. Although this might be very helpful also for security reasons to detected uncommon network patterns etc.

Well, by asking, how do your network metrics look like? I’d whish to get some viable metrics, e.g. packet loss, jitter, rtt, bandwidths (of course), … Many times it’s unclear.

These actual trivial questions are essential to know and estimate “Is my company’s network ready for cloud workloads?” or to know what’s to do to get the connectivity ready for (certain) cloud workloads. We also need to differentiate between workloads and their priority, e.g. no real-time vs. real-time workloads, file transfer vs. video calls.

What’s recommended?

A functioning, efficient and reliable network, especially internet connectivity towards the Microsoft Cloud Edge is key. If we talk about client facing applications, for instance Microsoft Teams, it is recommended to get the client app as near as possible to the Microsoft Cloud Edge so that the traffic can enter the highly optimized Microsoft Cloud Data Center Network (backend). Verify that the connectivity metrics towards the Microsoft Cloud Edge are meet.

Conclusion, opinion and summary

To reach the goal that clients’ network traffic can quickly enter Microsoft Cloud Data Center, we need to think about suited network concepts and designs. In my opinion centralized internet breakouts for clients are obsolete. Without a doubt there are advantages in management and routing traffic centrally depending on your point of view. If we “re-calibrate” our point of view and our expectations based on user and business requirements and principles we must re-think and re-assess our network to fulfill these requirements. To succeed we need to focus on the principle of excellent user experience which than will drive your business ahead. And as mentioned above, the network and internet connectivity towards the Cloud Edge are key.

Additional resources