Slowdown warning. It’s the network! Maybe.

It’s the network! At least, that’s often what gets the blame when users have a poor Office 365 experience. And maybe it is. That’s why the network itself is a prime focus of some monitoring vendors. Which was good start years ago, but it’s a bit outdated.

The blame is sometimes placed on the network team even when connectivity issues are not the contributing factor in a slowdown. Repeated slowdowns prompt suggestions for “more bandwidth”, even though that simplistic solution is not as pertinent as in the past. The scope of the problem now often extends beyond the reach of the local team.

“The scope of the problem now often extends beyond the reach of the local team”

Before the advent of Office 365 and other cloud services, the local network topology was much more interdependent. The sudden inability to reach the Exchange servers, or a database server could be hampered by a single segment. There’s no doubt that networks can still have issues. Hardware failures, switch configuration issues, maybe bandwidth issues. But problems with the network are usually obvious. No need to run traceroute…there’s a downpour of support calls coming in from the sales office. And of course, wireless connectivity has moved into the forefront. So, we agree that live monitoring still has value.

Even better than alerting on real-time issues would be alerting ahead of serious slowdowns or failures. If you live in an area prone to tornadoes, you’ve experienced tornado “watches” and tornado “warnings”. A warning (or alert) is sounded when a tornado has been sighted or seen on radar. It’s very localized. That’s what many user monitoring products do. The network is down!

A tornado watch can be as valuable as a warning. A “watch” says “be prepared!” It means a tornado is possible. A watch covers a large area. The weather service looks at many conditions, such as moisture, temperature and wind shear before announcing a watch. That’s what good user monitoring software does too.

Yes, the network is one condition to consider. So is the ISP. So is Office 365. And the user’s device. And sometimes, the user themselves. Our TrueDEM™ AI considers all the factors when deriving a “watch” notification. We saw the storm brewing during the recent Microsoft Teams outage. We issued a “watch” almost two hours before Microsoft issued the “alert.”