What is Citrix SD-WAN Office365 Optimisation and what benefits does it give you? 

Firstly, it’s worth knowing a couple of things about Microsoft Office365, from a networking perspective. Microsoft Office365 consists of several applications and the performance/user experience of some of these applications (Teams, Outlook and Word for example) can be affected by network latency. In an Office365 use case, high latency means poor user experience  

Office365 is cloud basedwhat does that mean?  

As a user, I can access Office365 from anywhere but the resources I need are not local to me, they live in Microsoft’s cloud. If the distance between the user and Microsoft’s cloud is large enough, then the time taken to get the user commands to Microsoft’s cloud and back may be noticeable latency, typically described as poor user experience. 

Microsoft have 2 things to help resolve this or at least minimise the negative effect of this latency. 

  • The Microsoft Global Network
    • A very high speed backbone that connects all Microsoft data centres around the world with a low latency network.  
  • Office365 Endpoints
    • These are doorways into this Microsoft network that allow users to get on and off the high speed backbone from a local point. To that end, there are a considerable number of these doorways all over the world that can be utilised to reduce service latency and ultimately improve user experience. 

To further enhance the user experience, the Office365 Endpoints are broken into three types. 

  • Optimise
    • An endpoint hosted at a Microsoft Data Centre providing connectivity to Office365 features and services where user experience is sensitive to availability and low latency. 
  • Allow
    • An endpoint hosted at Microsoft Data Centres providing connectivity to Office365 features and services not so sensitive to performance and latency. 
  • Default
    • An endpoint that may not be hosted at a Microsoft data centre providing connectivity to Office365 features and services that do not require and will not benefit a and b above. This traffic can be treated as normal internet traffic. 

OK, so with all of that in mind, back to the original question

What is Citrix SD-WAN Office365 Optimisation?

Citrix SD-WAN Office365 Optimisation is Citrix’s implementation of the above described Microsoft Office365 optimisation. In other words, Citrix have looked at all of the things you need to do to get the most out of Office365 and made it easy for you to do them.  

By simply “ticking” an option in the global settings of the Citrix SD-WAN configuration it enables all the Firewall, routing, application identification and DNS settings that are required to optimise O365 access at remote Citrix SD-WAN sites. It’s that simple.  

What benefits does it give you?

Put very simply it provides a great Microsoft Office365 user experience. 

  • Daily endpoint updates 
    • Microsoft moves endpoints around for operational purposes, changing the identities and connectivity characteristics in the process. The Citrix SD-WAN appliance performs daily updates of the Office365 signatures” to ensure it has up to date information of known endpoints to which the Office365 traffic may be directed. This in turn means the user is pointed to the right place to get the best experience.  
  • Lowering Latency
    • It takes advantage of secure Local Internet Breakout at the remote sites, eliminating backhauling ‘or ‘hair pinning’ via the data centre, shortening the distance between user and service and lowering the latency. 
  • Application Identification 
    • By using “First Packet Detection” the Citrix SD-WAN identifies Office365 applications quickly before using the predefined Firewall and routing policies to redirect traffic to the Microsoft endpoints. 
  • Office 365 beacon service 
    • The Citrix SD-WAN device can “probe” those known Office365 endpoints via ALL available WAN Links and determine the latency. The result is an understanding of the two critical things you need to know if you are going to direct the user to the best access point – which endpoints are available and out of those that are availablewhich has the quickest response time? 
  • Reporting 
    • Now that all the Office365 traffic is being identified and redirected as appropriate, the SD-WAN solution becomes the ideal place to measure user experience. 

“If you can see it, you can measure it. If you can measure it, you can manage it.”

There’s an obvious question around what good user experience looks like and historically, it’s been a difficult question to answer. Citrix SD-WAN can help here too, combining ML & AI with end to end service visibility to providing highly detailed application usage analyticsKnowing what applications are being used, the volume of data and bandwidth consumed, at a user or branch level, can be valuable insight when trying to understand and adapt to the needs of an ever changing Wide Area Network. 

Citrix SD-WAN Office365 Optimisation provides a simple way to give all users the best possible Office365 experience.

Watch the video to learn more.

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