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The Truth About Your ISP and How It Impacts Your Microsoft 365 Performance

To get the best user experience out of your Microsoft 365 (M365) apps, network connectivity speed is one of the most important factors. If your internal network has a hiccup, then your Teams video meeting will disconnect. If your internet service provider (ISP) transmits your packets around the globe, then you experience poor call quality within Teams. It really is that simple. Unreliable, slow network performance has a direct, negative impact on your experiences using Microsoft Teams.

by Stefan Fried

Bad ISP performance will cause Teams call quality issues

To get the best user experience out of your Microsoft 365 (M365) apps, network connectivity speed is one of the most important factors. If your internal network has a hiccup, then your Teams video meeting will disconnect. If your internet service provider (ISP) transmits your packets around the globe, then you experience poor call quality within Teams. It really is that simple. Unreliable, slow network performance has a direct, negative impact on your experiences using Microsoft Teams.

Slow network access for home users can jeopardize business productivity

Starting in March 2020 a paradigm shift occurred for corporate IT groups around the world. They had to begin supporting remote connectivity for most employees suddenly forced to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. This meant that home office networks and ISP’s would now have a direct impact on performance for communication and collaboration software applications.

A major component of network response time for Microsoft customers now came under severe scrutiny. It was the route distance that ISP’s provided to link a home user to the Microsoft 365 cloud environment. This is known as the peering distance. If the peering distance to M365 is far away, say >3.000 km, then your connection speed is impacted with a higher network latency and extended round trip times.

These long-distance network hops will cause poor call quality for Microsoft Teams. For an optimal experience, users want their ISP peering coverage to be as close to Microsoft’s cloud service front door as possible.

Check out the following link if you want to learn more about Microsoft’s Global Network infrastructure.

Identifying the Smoking Gun!

So how can you identify if your employees have a bad ISP with spread out peering connections to M365? The latest version of our OfficeExpert solution provides the information needed to closely monitor ISP performance for all your employees, no matter where their office is located. The new module is called “Endpoint Performance Monitoring”, or EPM, and it can be used to identify a wide range of technical issues that impact end user performance.

In the first screenshot below, you can see some green, blue, and red dots mapped on a world map. The blue bubbles demonstrate three devices who are using the same ISP. The green and red bubbles are indicating where the peering to Microsoft’s network happened. As you can see in the graphic, two devices have very close network connections to M365, but one does NOT. That specific user’s computer in Europe had their ISP route the connection to the M365 cloud all the way in North America (~8.000km away).

You can imagine that the performance and subsequent user experience is completely different compared to the other two computers. Besides the impact resulting from this huge peering distance, there is also evidence that this ISP routes the traffic across 11 hops on average, logging more than 32ms RTT (based on the last 2 days of measurements). This happens whenever the endpoint for M365 is accessed.

Tracking History for Network Peering Distances

To identify how often this occurs, the following time series chart provides the exact information metrics. As you can see in the screenshot below, the one ISP in Europe has been connecting users with the M365 cloud environment in North America quite often. There are some cases where they peer within 500km, but this is seldom.

The service level for that ISP is unacceptable. Any corporate IT group viewing this report would notify their users about this degraded performance and prompt them to discuss the questionable routing with their ISP and make a change if the performance does not improve.

Promote the Good ISPs

A much better experience is demonstrated in the second screenshot referencing a different ISP. All four of the supported users have a peering distance to M365 of approximately 625 km. One user located in Berlin utilized the closest entry point which is Poland. The latency RTT reported, shown as “Avg ISP RTT”, is under half the value of the previous, underperforming ISP. This highly performing ISP should be promoted by the corporate IT group as a preferred vendor for their home office users in the area.

Find Out More…

If you are interested in learning more about our OfficeExpert data analytics solution and how it can help you troubleshoot call quality issues for your Teams deployment, identify high-performing ISP’s in your geographic areas, and maintain business productivity for your remote users, please visit our overview page online, or sign-up for a trial at https://www.panagenda.com/procuts/officeexpert/

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