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Ready for Office 365? Practical tips for enterprise deployment

By: Steve Grossenbacher

Ready for Office 365? Practical tips for enterprise deployment

You may feel exposed when plunging into a major IT transformation like Office 365 – especially if it’s the first experience for a team. For while moving operations into the cloud is a mainstream idea, many organizations still use a hybrid approach and are just learning to trust the cloud for critical applications. The public lessons of battle tested cloud deployments can be your best friend when it’s time to pull the trigger.

One of the most important enterprise apps is Microsoft Office and switching to cloud-based Office 365 is a front-and-center goal for many of you. About 70% of Fortune 500 companies have purchased Office 365 but despite guidance by Microsoft for deployment, issues are still popping up – especially for hybrid environments using legacy backhauling to access cloud apps.

Zscaler has huge experience in the all-cloud space so allow us to offer a few “Cliff Notes” to Microsoft’s guidance that will help ease your path to a successful Office 365 deployment.

We have gleaned this knowledge by serving more than 700 large customers using Office 365. We process 2 billion Office 365 transactions daily and 1.8 petabytes of Office 365 traffic every month. In one of our larger deployments, we process more than 131 terabytes of Office 365 data in just one month for a single customer. Overall volume of Office 365 traffic Is quickly growing. Our ability to elastically scale the cloud for optimum Office 365 performance is a huge win for customers.

But you don’t get to this good spot without first addressing Microsoft’s guidance for deployment. The most important points are these:

  • Local Access – put local network egress as close to user as possible.
  • Clean Shot – all endpoints must have unhindered access to Microsoft.
  • Local Routing – resolve DNS locally to avoid application latency.
  • Optimized Connectivity – to efficiently run with Microsoft’s global network.

Our recent webinar describes details of navigating this guidance, where we address one of the keys to getting Office 365 right -  your organization’s network architecture. The common hub-and-spoke approach worked well before the cloud. But the advent of cloud apps dramatically increases network transactions through the gateway and strains backhauled MPLS links and security overlays in legacy networks.

Office 365 creates a high number of long-lived sessions that quickly exhaust firewall ports – typically 12-20 connections per user. After deployment, we’re seeing overall network traffic swell up to 40%. When enterprise users of Office 365 don’t have direct access to the internet, they are more likely to experience random hangs and connection issues. That’s not the experience anyone wants after deploying Office 365!

What Office 365 customers like about Zscaler’s offering is our ability deliver a fast, secure user experience for Office 365 and Internet traffic.  By using Zscaler for direct internet connections, you can break out from the corporate network and optimize the path to the Microsoft.  Because Zscaler peers  with Microsoft in key exchanges and has more than 100  global data centers, every user on or off network gets the same great experience and secure connection.  Additionally, Zscaler can prioritize traffic from Office 365 over non-critical applications like YouTube.

We invite you to check out the webinar for a deeper dive into Microsoft’s guidance. The most important takeaway for better Office 365 performance is that Zscaler’s approach mirrors Microsoft’s deployment model. We can help you get there faster without requiring hardware or backhaul. This keeps your Office 365 deployment affordable with full visibility and control. And that’s the ideal way to make this IT transformation successful for everyone!




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