Office 365 announces new network connectivity innovations and partnerships

This post has been republished via RSS; it originally appeared at: Microsoft 365 Blog articles.

A great user experience is critical to delivering on the promise of the modern workplace. The most significant factor that determines the quality of the Office 365 end user experience is network reliability and low latency between Office 365 clients and Office 365 service front doors. In order to realize optimal user experience in the cloud, we advise organizations to make the transition from legacy hub-and-spoke, datacenter-focused enterprise network and security architectures to modern architectures that help you securely manage Office 365 traffic and deliver better performance.


This is why we developed the network connectivity principles for Office 365, which help guide you toward optimal performance and user experience as you modernize your network.


At Ignite this week, we are pleased to announce new partnerships and innovations to help you continue to implement the network connectivity principles to improve connectivity and end user experience in Office 365. We are announcing a set of partnerships to help you build and optimize your network solutions for the best Office 365 experience. And we are announcing a preview of network performance tools built into Microsoft 365 admin center, to help you identify common network problems, diagnose issues, and optimize end user connectivity.


Announcing the first wave of Office 365 Networking Partner Program partners


Some time ago we created the Office 365 Networking Partner Program to help align our partner ecosystem around the key principles for optimal connectivity to Office 365. The program enables us to deepen our collaboration with networking partners that natively build network connectivity principles for Office 365 into their products and solutions.


Today we are thrilled to announce the first wave of partners who have successfully completed the program requirements. These partners are working closely with Office 365 engineering teams to architecturally align and integrate their solutions in accordance with Office 365 network connectivity principles. They demonstrated native capabilities in their products to help customers implement and automate their networks and security settings for Office 365 in a way that minimizes latency and maximizes performance and reliability of enterprise connectivity on Office 365 user experience.


The first set of Office 365 Networking Partner Program partners and solutions that have met our program requirements are:

  • Citrix SD-WAN
  • NetFoundry Network-as-a-Service 
  • NTT Communications SD-WAN service
  • Silver Peak Unity EdgeConnect
  • ZScaler Internet Access

Their solutions have met Microsoft’s testing requirements enabling direct and local Internet connectivity for Office 365 in accordance to our program requirements, which supports a high-quality end user experience. These qualified partners also provide detailed and easy to implement customer guidance on how to configure and use their solutions based on Microsoft recommended best practices, which minimizes the possibility of configuration errors, interoperability problems, and other issues that can impact Office 365 user experience.


Microsoft is partnering with additional networking solution providers who are actively working with us to fulfill the Office 365 Networking Partner Program requirements. The partners in progress of qualification include Cisco, Oracle, and Riverbed. We will share news of future partner qualifications once complete.


You can learn more about the Office 365 Networking Partner Program and details on the qualified partner solutions here.


Network connectivity and performance preview in Microsoft 365 admin center


This week at Ignite we are announcing a preview of network performance management tools integrated into the Microsoft 365 admin center. The new network performance page includes insights and a network score in the Microsoft 365 admin center that is based on your organization’s connectivity to Microsoft's network. Together, these new capabilities help you quickly identify and address common network configuration challenges so you can deliver great connectivity and user experience for Office 365 applications.


Insights on the network performance page in the admin center show network architecture design recommendations based on Microsoft’s Office 365 network connectivity principles, to help you implement changes that can improve user experience for Office 365 applications. And the network score allows comparison of how well different connections are designed for Office 365 network traffic. This is especially useful for organizations with multiple office locations or complex network perimeter architectures.


The network performance page allows you to drill into individual office locations, to see details on the network egress for a given location, providing you with immediate insight into opportunities for optimization. The example below illustrates an office location in Philadelphia that has network egress on the U.S. west coast, resulting in significant network cost and user experience impact. You can see recommended Microsoft network points of presence (POP) closer to the office location that will result in improved Office 365 user experience.


The preview of the network performance page in admin center is coming in early 2020. For more information on the new capabilities, read our deep dive here, and register your interest in the preview here.




Optimize your connectivity with Peering Service 


We often are asked to help identify public ISPs that deliver optimized Internet connectivity into Microsoft’s global network, to help you modernize your network for great connectivity to Office 365.


We are pleased to announce a public preview of the new Peering Service, which provides premium Internet connectivity into Microsoft’s global network using a network carrier. Peering Service is a networking service that aims at enhancing connectivity to Microsoft cloud services such as Office 365, Dynamics 365, SaaS services, Azure, or any Microsoft services accessible via the public Internet.


Microsoft has partnered with Internet Service Providers (ISP), Internet Exchange Providers (IXP) and, Software Defined Cloud Interconnect (SDCI) providers, worldwide, to provide highly reliable and performant public connectivity with optimal routing from a given location to the Microsoft network. With Peering Service, you can select a well-connected partner service provider in a given region. Public connectivity is optimized for high reliability and minimal latency from cloud services to the end-user location.


In particular for Office 365, when connecting using a Peering Service carrier, you can get network connections with high availability and low latency, which can improve the end user experience in Microsoft apps like Teams, SharePoint, and Outlook. The Peering Service model aligns with the network connectivity principles for Office 365, delivering optimized path and route selection over the public internet to Microsoft. There is no additional equipment to buyno complex configuration or long deployment cycles. Peering Service also provides a simpler solution for customers that use special connectivity models like ExpressRoute. 


You can learn more about the Peering Service and our partners here.


Comprehensive solutions for Office 365 connectivity


We are committed to helping you deliver optimal Office 365 experiences for your end users. That’s why we created the network connectivity principles for Office 365. And now we're lighting up our ecosystem and management tools to deliver comprehensive methods for you to easily implement these principles and realize the resulting performance improvements. We would love to hear what you think of our approach and these improvements through your comments and ideas on our User Voice forum.

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