4 Things to Consider when Running Office 365 in the Cloud
Recently a customer decided to move their entire VDI infrastructure into the cloud.
The VDI environment was approximately 20,000 users. As you can imagine there are a lot of design decisions necessary to ensure the success of this migration.
Some of the critical concerns were the performance of the applications, the Microsoft Office 365 suite and the interactions with cloud storage after the migration was completed. Management also indicated they’d like to lower the risk of failure in the process.
Additionally, they wanted to look at the performance differences between cloud hosting providers AWS vs Azure. When you are contemplating moving to the cloud you are changing your business model from the capital to operational. Because of this, and the consumption-based pricing model for the cloud it is important to perform the appropriate due diligence before making this commitment.
Moving to the cloud is gaining popularity (see the VDI Like a Pro chart below) and new offerings that I expect will surface later this year such as Windows Virtual Desktop and Citrix Cloud managed desktop will allow for easier adoption, and for sure more people would consider to migrate.
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While doing this it made me think, what are some of the major concerns that someone may have when considering moving their workload to the cloud? So, I did some testing and gathered some data. The results are described below.
When picking your provider and designing your environment, the following 4 topics should be considered:
- Supporting Hardware
- User Activities
While the cloud is ubiquitous, the location of your employees is not. If you are like us, you have global distribution of employees. This is the way we work now, but you should still be able to determine where most of the work activity is being completed. In our example, we are primarily located in Boston and in Amsterdam. This will enable us to pick a US East tenant and an EU tenant optimally. However, there are some significant implications involved when utilizing a multi-tenant scenario within your Office 365 deployment.
A few examples:
- Users with one tenant are guests on the other
- Multiple URLs associated with single workstream
- Cannot share single mailboxes across tenants
- Access to data is restricted a singular tenant
Most organizations will go with a single tenant. This can be problematic because the location of the data and the physical location of your users will inevitability have some impact on performance.
If you are like us and the rest of the world you are most likely utilizing Office 365 suite of applications. Most of the functions with Office suite applications are tied to their interconnectivity with your cloud provider. For example, if you are running Word on your machine and you sit in Boston, and your Office 365 tenant is in Europe while performing saving to your OneDrive or SharePoint you are forced to travel approximately 3,400 miles round trip. That is a long way for your Word document to travel.
If you are running your desktops or application in the cloud, the cloud provider will be the one providing the hardware. Current major cloud providers sometimes differ by a major release of processor architecture. This will cause differences in performance with any interaction made on top of the platform.
Your user activity will vary wildly from that of your neighbor. The result of this becomes difficult from a scalability perspective. You might be running your applications or desktops on a single hardware configuration or instance type that may not be optimal for the actions that your users are performing in their user session. You need to test to ensure that your design decisions are the best. A wrong decision can also be costly as we’ve seen instances where user density numbers were approximately 50% greater.
We set up about architecting a test on two cloud providers and we will be providing the data points in the coming weeks.
If you are already interested: Please leave your comments and feedback. We would love to complete additional interesting testing scenarios and learn your experiences.