VMware SD-WAN for Office 365: Productivity and Experience Together

User Experience is Directly Proportional to Network Efficiency

Communication and collaboration are integral to any business—big or small—in order to be productive and to serve dispersed workforce and customers. Microsoft is leading the way with its Office 365 productivity suite, enabling organizations to enjoy the agility, accessibility and economics of the cloud, while at the same time, avoiding the complexity of traditional infrastructure needed to deliver the same services.

Cloud service providers, Microsoft in this case, typically optimize the localization and routing of their services to deliver desired performance by distributing service “front doors” scaled out across locations worldwide. However, the quality of experience and perception by the end user primarily depends on the quality of the network connecting users at branches to Office 365 locations.

For a customer experience with distributed SaaS services, such as Office 365, direct Internet connectivity offers agility, accessibility, cost effectiveness and generally better latency compared to traditional “hub-and-spoke” architectures typical for customer private WANs. Using local Internet egress as close to end-user locations (ideally right from the enterprise branch office) helps to avoid constraints of private WAN backhauling and legacy/centralized network perimeters—a frequent source of congestion, packet loss, and jitter. This impacts not only real time communications such as Skype for Business or Teams media experiences, but also other key performance sensitive workloads such as Exchange Online and SharePoint Online. It’s important to note that while for some services, specific network requirements forlatency, packet loss and jittermay exist, they typically represent minimally required thresholds to support base experiences and can change as user demands for performance continue to increase. For rich, collaboration focused services such as Office 365, customers often demand not justsatisfactory, butoptimaluser experiences and performance—the same or better than what they used to have on-premises, competitive with what other similar customers can get and future-proof as cloud services continue to expand and evolve. 

The benefits of distributed, local Internet connectivity for Office 365 can be further enhanced by solutions that perform intelligent path/ISP selection,error correction and self-healing, without the tax of excessive backhauling and hairpinning, while still preserving key characteristics of the most direct network path from user to application. 

“The ultimate goal of the Office 365 network connectivity principles is to unlock the best possible user experience and performance with our productivity cloud using the Internet. These principles also ensure that the network doesn’t become a productivity bottleneck and customer investments in their network are future proof to new features and value that Office 365 can bring.  VMware SD-WAN™ by VeloCloud® can help customers execute on Office 365 connectivity principles and recommendations with ease. It helps to unlock the full potential of local and distributed Internet egress from the branch, while offering additional benefits provided by distributed VMware SD-WAN Gateways, part of the VMware SD-WAN Network of Clouds. It gives customers the flexibility and economics of native Internet based connectivity and the value of self-healing SD-WAN overlays, which help enhance the quality of network connections and ultimately, the end user experience.  –John Mighell, Product Marketing Manager, Microsoft Office 365

Optimizing Connectivity to Office 365

VMware SD-WAN™ by VeloCloud® optimizes the connectivity to Office 365 by leveraging the benefits of the Internet while also remediating its drawbacks. It combines the flexibility and economics of a self-healing overlay to optimize connectivity to your business-critical Office 365 applications. The zero-touch, cloud-delivered VMware SD-WAN empowers organizations with the best delivery of Office 365 services and an enhanced user experience while fully aligning with Office 365 Network Connectivity Principles.

0365 Network Principles

Microsoft recommends these Connectivity Principles for Optimal Office 365 performance (source)

The key components of the VMware SD-WAN solution include:

  • VMware SD-WAN Edge, virtual or physical, expands the WAN bandwidth by logically combining the WAN links to offer capacity that individual applications need. A VMware SD-WAN Edge automatically joins the SD-WAN fabric once powered on and connected to the Internet. These edge devices differentiate traffic (inbound and outbound) and apply customizable business policy to the Office 365 traffic in accordance with Office 365 Network Connectivity Principles, making it much easier compared to complex configurations required with traditional and fixed WAN technologies.
  • VMware SD-WAN Orchestrator, the brain of the architecture, automatically pulls the Office 365 URLs and IP address ranges published by Microsoft across all Office 365 service endpoints, and seamlessly updates the application recognition engine on 1000’s of VMware SD-WAN Edges with a single click. The Orchestrator also offers a single pane of glass for real time insights into network and application performance.
  • VMware SD-WAN Gateways, unique to the VMware SD-WAN cloud infrastructure, are the strategically deployed and highly available VMware SD-WAN Gateways. These onramp cloud devices offer the added benefit of real-time monitoring, dynamic steering of traffic, and link remediation on the underlying single or multiple public WAN connections without adding inefficiency of the network hairpin effect. For the Office 365 applications in point, these horizontally scalable gateways direct the traffic to the closest “front door” of Office 365 cloud in the most optimized manner.

The combination of these key components reflects Office 365 connectivity principles to get traffic to the Microsoft network as fast as practically possible without any change required from the customer side.

VMware SD-WAN Office 365VMware SD-WAN: Identifying, optimizing & securing Office 365 traffic

VMware SD-WAN can identify Office 365 applications among the 3000+ different workloads egressing off your network, separate them from generic internet traffic and finally route these Office 365 user requests to the closest network of cloud gateways, which then hands them off to the best peering Office 365 entry point. It minimizes the distance/latency between user and the application, delivering consistent quality of experience without compromising the security of the payload.

The VMware SD-WAN solution addresses the compelling use cases that support the immediate needs of today’s enterprises, along with the ongoing evolution from legacy computing infrastructures to a cloud-first strategy. VMware’s vision is to deliver the digital foundation that enables any user on any device from any location to any application, across this distributed multi-cloud landscape. To achieve this vision, a different approach to connecting users to applications is needed. The VMware SD-WAN Network of Cloud Services is that approach to address this any-user-any-connection need by leveraging the VMware hyperscale cloud infrastructure and ever-expanding cloud partnerships. Want to try out how VMware SD-WAN can help you transform your Office 365 experience, contact us today!

Learn more about how VMware delivers the desired performance, reliability and user experience to Office 365 here.


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