It’s the fall of the robots (or probes, or whatever…)

Office 365 user monitoring is all about the experience of the user. That is, the human who is using Office 365 from their devices, most likely from home these days. Successful remote monitoring of Office 365 is about their experience using Office 365 apps, not the device they are using. Of course, it is useful to know if they are having network connectivity issues and the like. So our TrueDEM™ software looks at that too. But that’s not the biggest concern for IT right now. Are there any issues that affect a large amount of your users happening right now? Is something affecting Microsoft Teams meetings? If so, is it all the users on a single ISP? TrueDEM monitors the Office 365 experience for all users on all devices. There are no “server agents,” or “probes” or “robots” running on some server somewhere. We are where the user is. On their devices…at their desks…in their homes.

The pitfalls of monitoring “from afar”

Some vendors require you to create “robots” or “probes” for each segment that you want to monitor. This is software that must be installed (and manually updated) on servers, not the users devices. These are separate machines in a corporate location, nowhere near the users at home. These vendors will often suggest that the more robots you install the more and better information you have. Which means more virtual servers to install and maintain as the VM’s must be dedicated to this process.

So, you’ve got a VIP working at home who suddenly has glitches with Microsoft Teams. There’s a “robot” on a separate network, behind a firewall, and probably a proxy, that is supposed to track this from afar. Even assuming the proper ports are opened and configured, and the software has been installed correctly, what can this robot really tell you? Is it logged in as the VIP and running Office 365.? Is it checking the performance of Outlook desktop? Of course not, as the robot would have to be simultaneously logged in as all users being monitored. (And what a security breach that would be…) In fact, these robots (or whatever marketing term vendors call their monitoring gizmos) usually aren’t required to have Outlook installed. How you claim to do exactly what the user does when you are missing the app?

TrueDEM is running ON THE USERS’ devices, not some virtual server at the corporate office. The best way to know if it is snowing is to look out the window, not call the weather service. We see what the users Office 365 experience is because we are on their devices with them.

Why many vendors require a server

A lot of vendor “probes” or “robots” require their own VM and/or server. That’s because deploying that code to a user machine would be a bad idea. If it wasn’t built specifically for for the user experience (like TrueDEM!) it would negatively affect the users devices. It would not be aware of user activity, and could be running tests while the user is in a Microsoft Teams meeting, for example. Not to mention that code not designed for user devices could be a security issue. And, some of these products require special firewall port openings as they use obscure legacy protocols. A big advantage of TrueDEM is our intelligent testing and awareness of user impact.

Synthetic transactions – not quite RUM

One of Merriam-Webster’s definitions for “synthetic” is “devised, arranged, or fabricated for special situations to imitate or replace usual realities.” The third definition says “fictitious” and “bogus.” So synthetic transaction monitoring (STM) is not the real thing. It might be close, but it is not as good as the real thing. (Ask a florist’s opinion about artificial flowers lol. ) STM has its uses, but real user monitoring (RUM) is best for Office 365. We designed TrueDEM to do both. While a user is using Office 365, we monitor the REAL user experience. If they step away, or switch to a non-Office 365 app, we fallback to performing synthetic transactions. However, as soon as they enter a Microsoft Teams meeting, or open an email. we go “live” again automatically. If a robot is not where the user is, the only transactions it can perform are simulations.

Deployment – the hidden costs

There are hidden costs to letting “robots” do your monitoring. The software must be installed by admins, with admin rights, on virtual machines. For an enterprise, this is a hidden resource cost. Installation is usually not a simple process, and often requires customer service support. Some vendors even need to have their own staff perform the installation. There’s a significant labor cost for a worldwide install. Not to mention maintenance and upgrades. If you need vendor support to install the product, you’ll probably need it every time there’s an update. Perfrax’s TruDEM can be deployed worldwide in about 15 minutes. There are no special admin rights needed, but we still remain GPDR compliant. TrueDEM works on both enterprise AND personal devices. And updates are just as fast. You’ll be able to deploy TruDEM in less time than it takes for your first setup meeting with other vendors.

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