There are many things in life that you might be uncertain about. Will the weather be sunny next month, what will next week’s lottery numbers or will you get stuck in traffic on the commute? Unsurprisingly, moving to the cloud brings a lot of uncertainty for IT administrators not only looking to make the move, but looking to rely on it long term, or those managing complex global infrastructures. So, it comes as little surprise that the kind of product I’m reviewing here helps bring a little bit more certainly to those last two examples, but sadly you’re on your own for the lottery numbers.
Problems with monitoring large Exchange and Office 365 environments
Whilst GSX Monitor and Gizmo can monitor a range of environments outside of just Exchange, this review naturally focuses on the product’s Exchange and Office 365 capabilities.
Now – I was being a little tongue in cheek above but some of it holds true. Granted, it’s easy to be certain about a few things. Firstly, if you currently monitor an on-premises environment using a tool that validates services are up and running on Exchange, or makes test connections to Office 365, it’s highly likely you can detect whether Exchange is available. Secondly, if you have a fairly simple set up – a single office or location – then you are likely to find performance, in general, will be similar for most users.
Increasingly IT administrator need a much more than that though to be able to manage their services effectively as the business now expects better reliability and has an expectation that should there be an issue, it can be pinpointed to the cause; and when there isn’t an issue, especially in the case of global firms, it’s a common ask for IT admins to want to know how to understand the ongoing latency from each region they need to support.
So, this is where GSX Monitor and Gizmo comes in very handy. They form components of an enterprise-scale monitoring suite that not only monitors Exchange or Office 365, but also monitor the third-party components like mail gateways and network devices, and crucially provide visibility from the client perspective using an innovative solution that performs synthetic transactions, like accessing mail or creating appointments, all from the client side.
The core use case for GSX Monitor and Gizmo are particularly suitable for larger organizations looking to gain visibility into a complex infrastructure.
Now, that’s a pretty sweeping statement but to elaborate, here’s a few of the common use cases related to Exchange and Exchange Online where I know a product like this is often asked for:
· Understanding client performance across multiple sites and regions. Either running on-premises or in the cloud (or a mix of the two) client performance is something you won’t typically have a lot of visibility of. Visibility into latency and transactional performance will be useful not only for establishing a baseline, but also when troubleshooting.
· Visibility into the health and performance of the end-to-end service. A move to the cloud means that there are many components that contribute to the end-user experience or can fail and cause problems with your service. Whether that’s AD, Exchange Hybrid, mail gateways, MDM solutions AD FS or Azure AD Connect – understanding the health of these as well as Office 365 is very useful to running a service with confidence and identifying the root cause of problems quickly.
· Performing synthetic transactions against Exchange or Exchange Online to verify service health. A highly available infrastructure can suffer failing components – but having a synthetic client send and receive mail, download data, create appointments, and perform other tasks that form part of the user experience are very useful in understanding whether the service remains healthy and performant.
· Collate data relevant to the service and allow it to be accessed by various roles. Collecting the data and performing tests is one thing, but it’s a common ask in larger enterprises for a solution that can make the information available to support teams responsible for managing the service. This is especially true in an organization looking to use a formal service management process and ensure that the relevant knowledge about issues within the service can be viewed by relevant staff, and where necessary alerts distributed to the right people.
These (along with a few other capabilities) are use cases that GSX claim the Gizmo and Monitor will help you accomplish. Over the course of this review – we’ll find out.