Troubleshooting Your Office 365 Environment

By Brandon Shopp, VP, Product Strategy, SolarWinds

Is unnecessary complexity making Office 365 monitoring a headache for your agency? A new presidential mandate requires federal agencies to “transform and modernize” their IT systems, with the goal of creating a more streamlined, cost-efficient, and secure IT environment.

Yet, as agencies move to meet this mandate—often by migrating server-based email systems to an agency-wide, cloud-based Office 365 environment—federal IT pros must figure out how to incorporate older, existing systems with newer tools and technologies.

Is there a way to modernize and maintain compliance at the same time? Yes, absolutely. Many agencies have successfully overcome this challenge, particularly with Office 365, and are successfully modernizing their systems while meeting the required mandates.

Monitoring and Backup Tips

If you’re running Office 365, as many agencies are, your first order of business is to be sure you can monitor, track, and report on Office 365 usage and availability across the agency through a single-pane-of-glass view—the same view through which you can view other monitoring and reporting activity.

Choose a tool to let you monitor all your Exchange accounts, servers, and administrator portal information through one unified view as well. And, be sure your chosen solution will allow you to check, track, and generate Office 365 Exchange reports on mailbox growth and, in particular, which users may be over quota.

Another important capability: be sure you can get the same level of information about archived mailboxes, inactive mailboxes, mobile devices using Office 365, mailbox groups, and more. Ideally, your solution will provide historical growth charts and corresponding reports to help you get in front of potential issues before they affect end users.

Now, let’s talk about email backups. Far too often, agencies acquire multiple backup solutions, over time, to cover a broad range of backup needs; one for servers, one for workstations, one for specific databases, and so on.

To make things easier and more efficient, consider a solution with a unified dashboard, private cloud storage, and multiple recovery methods. The goal is to find a tool that lets you, the federal IT pro, choose the data and assets you need to protect—physical and virtual servers, workstations, documents, Office 365 Exchange, and OneDrive, for example—and manage them all from a single dashboard. In fact, consider a solution with a multitenant hosted console to let you check backup statuses, schedule backup jobs, and recover data across your environment.

Lastly, if you’re using a cloud-based backup offering, beware. Some backup providers simply tack on a public cloud to a legacy solution, which can make cloud-based backups painfully slow. Be sure to invest in a solution built for the cloud and specifically designed for fast data transfer.

For many agencies, moving one or two departments to a cloud-based email system was their first entrée into the world of government cloud computing. Today, agencies are amid a much larger consolidation effort, of all email systems—moving everything to a cloud-based environment such as Office 365.

The value is undeniable: one instance of Office 365 allows agency personnel to schedule meetings, share screens, take polls, and realize the full value of the product across the entire organization—not just the already-migrated departments. Time and money saved for larger agencies can be in the many-millions-of-dollars range.

Yet, like any agency system, Office 365 must be monitored and backed up efficiently to realize the full value and be an asset to the agency, not a liability.

To do so, consider a single-pane-of-glass Microsoft monitoring solution with information from any location (on premises, hybrid-cloud, or full cloud), for any type of email system (on premises or cloud, such as Office 365), and fast data transfer for faster backups. This combination should have federal IT pros well on their way to removing the complexity from Office 365 monitoring and backup.