Maximize the Performance of Your Microsoft Ecosystem

A vast majority of government networks are driven by Microsoft products, from Office 365 to the Azure cloud platform. It should come as no surprise, then, that more and more agencies are looking for tools to monitor Microsoft systems more effectively—all through a single pane of glass.

The good news is there are ways to make the most of existing Microsoft technology with complementary monitoring strategies that will meet the needs of the federal IT operations security teams, SysAdmins, DevOps pros, and managers.

Yes, Microsoft offers some of its own options, such as System Center and Windows Admin Center. That said, federal IT pros can optimize performance by including additional monitoring strategies such as monitoring Windows servers, Microsoft applications, databases, Hyper-V, Azure, and Office 365.

Let’s take a closer look.

Monitoring Strategies

Windows Servers

Within any environment, identifying a performance issue involves understanding what’s operating efficiently to help identify what’s not operating efficiently. In a Microsoft environment, this means knowing that the operating system isn’t part of the problem.

To gain this knowledge, consider tools that help provide information regarding things like high CPU utilization, insufficient physical and virtual memory, performance metrics, and Windows network load balancing. A tool that can focus on the Windows servers will provide highly-specific information that can help pinpoint—or rule out—a server-based issue.

Microsoft Applications

It can be impossible to truly understand application health—and, in turn, performance—without understanding how well Microsoft application services, processes, and components are operating.

To get this critical information, consider a tool that gives the federal IT team the ability to:

• Isolate page-load speeds based on location, application components, or underlying server infrastructure
• Monitor requests per second, throughput, and request wait time
• Identify the root cause of problems by monitoring key performance metrics, including request wait time and SQL query executing time
• Identify which webpage elements are slow and affect overall webpage application performance

A greater understanding of the performance levels of the processes feeding in to and out of applications can prove invaluable when trying to identify higher-level application performance issues.

Databases

Every federal IT pro knows that application performance issues can be caused by poor database performance. Needless to say, monitoring database performance is a must.

Specifically, be sure to invest in a tool that provides the ability to troubleshoot performance problems in real-time and historically. The historical perspective will allow the team to identify a baseline, so they can better understand the severity of a slowdown. This perspective will then allow the ability to analyze the database workload to identify inefficiencies. Ideally, the tool of choice will also provide SQL Server index recommendations as well as alerting and reporting capabilities.

Hyper-V

For optimized virtual infrastructure performance, be sure to optimize Hyper-V—Microsoft’s virtualization platform.

One of the best ways to do this is by understanding and optimizing the size of virtual machines through capacity planning. It’s also possible to take this even further by predicting the behavior of the virtual environment and solving potential issues before they escalate.

Not all tools will provide these capabilities, so choose wisely.

Azure

Many federal IT pros believe that cloud monitoring is in the hands of the cloud provider. Not so. It is absolutely possible—and highly recommended—to monitor the cloud infrastructure and transit to help ensure optimized system and application performance.

For example, a good tool will provide the ability to monitor Azure-based applications with as much visibility as on-premises applications. A better tool will go even further and allow the federal IT pro to measure the performance of each network node inside the cloud and to analyze historical performance data to pinpoint a timeframe if performance has degraded.

Microsoft offers a tool called Azure Monitor, which allows the federal IT pro to collect performance and utilization data, activity and diagnostics logs, and notifications from various Azure resources. Azure Monitor integrates with other analytics and monitoring tools, which is a plus for larger environments supporting a range of different types of products and services from a range of vendors.

Think it’s not possible to monitor Office 365? Think again. Tools are available today that allow the federal IT pro to track Office 365 usage and availability. Specifically, look for the ability to:

• Monitor and report on the status and availability of the Office 365 portal, subscription, and security statistics
• Monitor on-premises Exchange in the same console as Office 365
• Check consumed license units based on part number or number of active subscriptions
• Discover top senders and receivers of emails

For further peace of mind—and to help protect against data loss—look for the ability to back up emails to a secondary location.

Conclusion

Operating in a Microsoft-centric world doesn’t mean the federal IT pro must rely only on Microsoft products and services to help optimize performance. Yes, Microsoft has excellent options. That said, there’s more out there that can go a long way toward ensuring a top-performance environment on site or in the Azure cloud.

 

*Article Written by Brandon Shopp, VP of Product Strategy, SolarWinds

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