In Office 365 deployments, it’s not uncommon for branch and remote users to struggle with access, reliability and performance. That’s because traditional enterprise networks were originally designed to centralize data and applications at the headquarters datacenter, not to provide direct-to-cloud Internet access to Office 365 or SaaS applications from the branch. For branch and remote users, traditional network configurations can adversely impact Office 365 and SaaS access and performance. A look at two common traditional configurations help reveal the challenge.
In the traditional DNS backhaul model, where branch and remote traffic is directed back through headquarters datacenters before reaching the Internet, Office 365 workflows and routing to SaaS applications become inefficient. Branch user traffic must often travel longer network distances before accessing the Internet or reaching files and data, significantly impacting access, reliability and performance. Worse, there’s no branch resiliency or local survivability as branch users are at the mercy of the headquarters datacenter being online and functional.
Server- and Router-Based DNS/DHCP
Utilizing servers and routers to manage DNS/DHCP is another network model that often results in adverse Office 365 user experiences. This approach involves labor-intensive, individual branch server- and router-management that can generate site-to-site inconsistencies. Server-based DNS/DHCP can experience performance degradation and process interruptions, while routers are often subject to limited administrative visibility.
Network Connectivity for Office 365 and SaaS
Because Office 365 is a globally-distributed service, connectivity comes through the Microsoft Global Network front doors that are scaled-out across hundreds of locations worldwide. Architecturally, optimum user experience is achieved by deploying local DNS to access Office 365’s local Internet breakouts. This enables branch and remote users to connect to the closest Office 365 network location for the best overall experience. This means that DNS queries must be resolved locally, something that the DNS backhaul model cannot deliver. Branch server- and router-based DNS/DHCP management models provide local service but can be expensive to deploy, maintain and refresh, and can be cumbersome, error-prone and inefficient to operate, especially for extensive, geo-diversified networks. Plus, servers can experience performance and service interruptions, impacting user experience. With constrained budgets, resources and cost reduction initiatives, the server- and router-model may no longer be sustainable for organizations with extensive branch networks, especially when lower-cost, more cost-predictable and higher-performing options are available. So how do you resolve this dilemma? Move your DNS, DHCP and IPAM (DDI) core network services to the cloud.
Optimizing Your Network for Office 365 and SaaS
Moving DDI to the cloud avoids the challenges of DNS backhaul and server- and router-based delivery. Connecting users to the nearest Office 365 entry point optimizes user access to Office 365, SaaS and datacenter applications, improving reliability, performance and overall experience. Locally recursive DNS and locally hosted, High Availability (HA) DHCP enables scalability to support thousands of sites and the flexibility to deploy on on-premises commodity hardware appliance, VM or in a container, significantly lowering capital hardware costs. It also lowers operating expense though common subscription, cloud-consumption model. The lightweight on-premises branch appliance provides resiliency and local survivability and guarantees geo-local access to cloud-based Office 365. It further improves workflows by centralizing visibility and automating core network services, allowing network administrators to manage more users and environment workloads in less time. So, wherever users are, they can access and remain connected to Office 365 and SaaS applications regardless of network service interruptions at the corporate headquarters. This means superior reliability for thousands of remote offices, optimizing Office 365 access and improving user experience for performance and productivity.
For more information, Infoblox Technical Marketing Engineer, Kevin Zettel, recorded a 5-minute video that shows how Infoblox’s BloxOne DDI enhances Office 365 and SaaS access and demonstrates performance improvements in a couple of use cases using the Microsoft Onboarding Tool. It’s a great solution for improving branch user Office 365 access and SaaS network performance.