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Getting the Best Performance for Microsoft 365 with VMware SD-WAN

By Suman Bisht, Product Marketing Manager, VMware SD-WAN by VeloCloud
and Joseph Chung, Director, Strategic Partnerships, VMware SD-WAN by VeloCloud

Organizations today rely heavily on cloud-delivered communication and collaboration services to effectively connect their employees and customers across different locations. Even though stay at home orders are starting to be relaxed in some regions, working from home is likely to stick around as the new norm moves forward.  Digital workforce readiness is more important than ever before.

Microsoft is empowering organizations to focus on innovation and drive productivity during these unprecedented times with the Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) platform. However, the end user experience for cloud-delivered applications is only as good as the network transporting them. As working from home or remotely becomes mainstream, professionals face unprecedented challenges in terms of connectivity and experience as their applications are travelling over the unpredictable and unreliable public internet. Great user experience is a combination of a great service and an optimized network that connects users wherever they are to the nearest location of deployed applications. That combination can make or break the business case for digital transformation.

With one of the largest networks globally, Microsoft is continuously innovating to improve latency once application traffic hits or is within their global network, called the first mile. They continue to assess the performance of their services and continue to optimize the delivery of Microsoft 365 services. When the application traffic leaves the first mile, there are layers of networks and application providers that play a role in determining the application round trip time between the users’ and Microsoft’s front doors, covering the mid and last mile of the distance.

“To optimize performance and experience for our customers, Microsoft invested heavily in its global network, which peers with thousands of ISPs in hundreds of sites worldwide. We are also deploying highly distributed application front doors, which deliver application experiences like Microsoft 365 in closest possible proximity to end users and with minimum latency. Because of that, allowing users to get to Microsoft’s network as quickly and as directly as possible and be served by the closest Microsoft 365 front doors is a key principle to achieve best performance and most optimal user experience. VMware SD-WAN™ by VeloCloud® with capabilities like DMPO along with distributed cloud gateways, is enabling customers to implement Microsoft 365 connectivity principles with ease. It helps improve network quality and performance of Microsoft 365 and do this by simply using local Internet connections directly from the branch office.”

– Konstantin Ryvkin, Partner Architect at Microsoft

Figure 1: User experience is directly proportional to network efficiency

VMware SD-WAN offers application-aware capabilities intrinsic to its architecture, ensuring best performance for Microsoft 365 over the distance the applications cover.

Transforming Last Mile and Mid Mile

The more hops exist between user and application, the higher the round-trip time will be. Latency is introduced through multiple reasons such as backhauling traffic through the on-premises data center, adding a third-party cloud security solution, ISP peering inefficiencies, or undetected routing issues. Better application performance can be achieved with closest and direct traffic breakouts, reducing the distance and processing time during the transport.

Adding VMware SD-WAN with Dynamic Multi-path Optimization™ (DMPO) improves the application performance by improving the quality of the underlay. From a deployment perspective, VMware SD-WAN diminishes the need to backhaul traffic through the legacy hub-and-spoke model. DMPO uses hosted Cloud Gateways without compromising the security of the payload. The VMware SD-WAN Gateways are highly available and strategically deployed to provide optimized routes between users and Microsoft 365 front doors without adding the hairpin effect.

Figure 2: On-ramp gateways closest to Microsoft front doors

Classification, Recognition and Prioritization

With more and more SaaS adoption, multiple cloud applications compete for access and bandwidth across the same network. This degrades the performance and experience for mission-critical applications. VMware SD-WAN deep application recognition can identify Microsoft 365 applications, including Teams and Skype for Business, in addition to over 3000 different workloads egressing off your network. Once applications are recognized, VMware SD-WAN separates them from generic internet traffic and routes these user requests to the closest network of cloud gateways, which then hands them off to the best peering Microsoft 365 entry point. It minimizes the distance/latency between users and applications, delivering consistent quality of experience without compromising payload security.

Figure 3: Identifying and prioritizing Microsoft 365 traffic

Dynamic Traffic Steering and Link Remediation

To deliver a resilient overlay network that takes into account real-time performance of WAN links, VMware has developed Dynamic Multipath Optimization (DMPO). DMPO is used between all of the VMware SD-WAN components that process and forward data traffic: the VMware SD-WAN Edge and the VMware SD-WAN Gateway. DMPO performs continuous, unidirectional measurements of performance metrics: loss, latency, and jitter of every packet on every tunnel between any two DMPO endpoints, the VMware SD-WAN Edge or the VMware SD-WAN Gateway.

VMware SD-WAN per-packet steering allows independent decisions in both uplink and downlink directions without introducing any asymmetric routing. DMPO uses both passive and active monitoring approaches. It identifies traffic using Layer 2 to 7 attributes: for example, virtual local area network (VLAN), IP address, protocol, and applications. VMware SD-WAN performs application-aware, per-packet steering based on business policy configurations and real-time link conditions. In a scenario where it may not be possible to steer the traffic flow onto the better link (i.e., single link deployment) or multiple links have issues at the same time, DMPO enables error correction for the duration of the disruption, delivering optimal performance even over a single link. With SD-WAN gateways enabling DMPO, customers can shield the application performance and experience from the broadband impairments.

Figure 4: Dynamic Multi-path Optimization: Optimizing performance over even a single link

Simplicity and Ease of Use

Finally, the benefits of an infrastructure fall flat if it is complex to deploy, configure, monitor and manage. VMware SD-WAN enables zero touch deployment for the network edges, non-CLI configurations for business policies, and a single pane of glass for insights into application and network performance. The VMware SD-WAN Orchestrator by default has a business policy framework to identify and prioritize Microsoft 365 traffic as high priority. With business policy, users have the flexibility to direct traffic where they prefer. The combination of data, control and management plane in VMware SD-WAN offers seamless and distributed connectivity between users and applications without any major intervention by the admin.

Figure 5: Single pane of glass to set policies across all the sites

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 Clouds 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 find out how VMware SD-WAN can help you transform your Microsoft 365 experience? Contact us today!

Learn more about how VMware delivers the desired performance, reliability and user experience for Microsoft 365 in our Solution Overview. Read about VMware SD-WAN’s “Works with Microsoft 365” designation in our previous blog, VMware SD-WAN for Office 365: Productivity and Experience Together.

VMware SD-WAN Work @ Home Trial

User experience is paramount to measure the success of enterprise with SaaS and we want to enable our customers and their users to get faster ROI. COVID-19 has changed the way people work and has forced organizations to accelerate the pace of a digital workforce transformation. Business continuity is even more essential now in these turbulent times. VMware, in addition, is offering the VMware SD-WAN Work @Home free trial offer, which provides the solution and hosted services for up to 90 days for up to 100 remote locations to empower the workforce even during such unprecedented times. Learn more about Business Continuity with VMware® SD-WAN by VeloCloud™.


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