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IT’s Journey to the Cloud Moving Your Unified Messaging Applications with GSX Solutions
JOURNEY TO THE CLOUD-
MOVING YOUR UNIFIED
WITH GSX SOLUTIONS
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If you've been working in IT anytime during the last five years, you most likely have
considered moving your IT applications to the cloud—if you haven't already migrated part
or all of your infrastructure. Whether it's pressure from the C-level to reduce total cost of
ownership (TCO), the increasing complexity of managing virtualized environments or
demand from end users to be able to access applications and data from any device they
choose and from wherever they are on the network, the move to the cloud is happening
and for good reason.
Some IT administrators still fear that outsourcing critical messaging and collaboration
applications to the cloud could put their jobs at stake, but the move is just changing the
role of the administrator, allowing them to concentrate more on high-level consideration.
In this white paper, we will look at the challenges involved in moving your messaging and
collaboration environments to the cloud. In addition, we examine how GSX's availability
monitoring and automation management products deliver business value from both a
technical and business perspective.
We'll cover the following:
• Why move to the cloud?
• The main myths when moving applications to the cloud.
• The importance of the service level agreements (SLAs).
• The GSX value add.
• Migration is a never-ending story—how to make it smooth?
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1. Why Move to the Cloud?
By leveraging the cloud, you can position your IT department as a strategic services
broker which can lower the bottom line substantially for the entire organization.
1- Reasons to Move to the Cloud
• Cost savings: Moving to the cloud reduces capital expenditures. Complex,
virtualized infrastructure requires a significant amount of expensive storage,
which cloud providers already have.
• Mobility and device proliferation: End users are increasingly accessing email from
smart phones and tablets while on the go. The infrastructure to support these
distributed environments is often complex and needs to support heterogeneous
virtualization platforms which cloud service providers have the resources to do.
• Simple and scalable: The ability to dynamically scale up, down or out and allocate
resources as needed without much effort.
• Subscription pricing: Predictable pricing models.
• Reliability: Services guaranteed by strict SLAs.
• Automation: Updates and migrations can be done behind the scenes and
• Security: Automated backups under specific SLAs.
2- Application Performance Management Challenges
While the benefits of migrating messaging and collaboration platforms to the cloud are
clear, managing the performance and availability of these in public and hybrid clouds
requires specific tools which cloud service providers don't always provide. Sure, cloud
providers offer service levels that are guaranteed, but how do you know if you are
receiving perfect service, or at least what you expected? How do you measure the users'
experience? Performance issues are the most common complaint during and after
migration. Monitoring application performance and end-user experience are critical to
protect your environment from service interruption and data loss.
Cloud service providers are most certainly monitoring their cloud environment, but they
are likely using network monitoring tools which don't dig into the application itself.
Furthermore, application monitoring is often considered a "nice-to-have" feature until
you experience a significant service interruption, especially with mission-critical
messaging and collaboration applications. Then, it immediately becomes a "must-have."
In the end, reactive approaches to performance disruptions still leave workers
unproductive. To avoid this, you need monitoring and analysis tools that enable you to
anticipate service disruptions before they occur. No IT administrator looks forward to
calls from executives complaining that they cannot receive email, and that certainly
doesn't make the IT department look like a cost-saving, strategic asset to the business as
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2- The Main Myths Associated with Migrating to the Cloud
The cloud is everywhere, whether it's private, hybrid or public. In this new world,
companies need to maintain the same visibility and control over applications as when
they were hosted on-premises. The rapid growth of the cloud is also leading to the
emergence of new services, new ways for services provisioning, and new interaction
models between cloud service providers and the ecosystem using cloud resources.
There are a lot of myths about the performance of the messaging platforms in the cloud.
1- My Cloud Provider is Promising a Perfect Level of Service
I do not need to monitor my environment because my cloud provider already is. SLAs are
key as they define the quality and types of services expected by both the company and
the cloud provider. They are also considered a key competitive differentiator from one
service provider to another based on service up-time, level of availability, etc. But, how
do you actually know if you are receiving perfect service, or at least the level of service
you expected? How do you measure the users' experience? Monitoring the performance of
your applications is critical to protect your environment from interruption and data loss
because of server resource overload.
2- My Cloud Provider is Already Using Monitoring Tools
I do not need additional monitoring tools as my cloud provider uses one already and
tracks the level of performance on a regular basis. Yes, they are most certainly
monitoring their cloud environment, but they are likely using network monitoring tools
which are NOT monitoring performance and are NOT testing the end-user experience. So,
you will have network capabilities that will never give you an exact understanding of how
your applications are performing on an hourly and daily basis.
3- I Did Not Monitor my Exchange Environment while It was
On-Premises so Why Would I Need to Monitor It in the
Anticipating service disruptions is the key way to avoid critical issues that have to be
fixed reactively which, in turn, impact your bottom line. It is just as important to monitor
on-premises and cloud environments to make sure your users will never be impacted.
4- I Do Not Need to Monitor Because my Users Tell me When
Something is not Working Correctly
A reactive approach like this for critical messaging platforms is very risky. Do you really
want your company executives to call you up complaining that they cannot receive email?
It is always a tricky situation when it comes to this point as you are going to invest time
and money to solve the problems—time and money that would have been saved with a
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3- The Importance of Service Level Agreements (SLAs)
Migration is always a big concern for IT departments, and even more so when it concerns
upgrading your existing on-premises environment to the cloud. In order to keep
productivity high, you need to make migrations entirely transparent from an end-user
Technical key drivers for moving to the cloud include:
• Lowering TCO and capital expenditure
• Optimizing storage based upon need
• Increasing scalability and flexibility
• Improving resource management
However, moving to the cloud also raises important challenges, like service outages and
performance degradation. While service disruption is inevitable in the cloud as it is on-
premises, it's best not to be blind when it occurs and to have solid SLA politics in place
with your cloud-service provider. Basically, SLAs are intended to ensure that the provider
understands what it is required to deliver, the customer knows what to expect, and both
can measure actual service performance against the SLA.
There are several questions you need to ask when developing the right SLA, including:
• Have you defined what services are critical to your business lines?
• Are you capable of measuring the quality of these services?
• Are metrics in place to justify and manage the costs associated with delivering
these services to your organization?
Cloud SLAs are becoming increasingly complex. For instance, data can be hosted almost
anywhere and is subject to different regulations, depending on the host country. Services
can also be affected by activity completely beyond the provider's control. Real-time
monitoring, intelligent updates and flexibility in design means SLA management is no
longer about simply showing whether a service met expectations or not; it's about giving
IT managers the ability to ensure that services will proactively meet the requirements of
1- Microsoft SLA is NOT Your End User Availability or
When you sign up for Exchange Online, Microsoft provides you with a set of different
How can you ensure that the service provided by Microsoft to your management team is
really as good as they promise? You need to be able to provide independent figures to
prove that the quality of services is up to standard. In addition, even if Microsoft is
managing your Exchange servers, how can you monitor end user experience, or any
bandwidth, network or infrastructure issues that might be affecting performance?
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2- Improving the Quality of Services and Justifying IT Costs
You should be able to have insight into what’s going on from a user perspective because,
in the end, you as an IT department are responsible for getting users to adopt a new
email environment. GSX Analyzer enables you to:
• Get reports on user experience of the Exchange Online services
- In terms of performance
- In terms of availability
• Compare this user experience across all your sites
• Identify any bottlenecks in your organization
• Detect and analyze performance problems
• Justify IT costs in terms of network or Internet providers (to fix performance
• Demonstrate the level of services you can provide to management, a business line
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4- The GSX Value Add
GSX Solutions is the leading provider of monitoring and reporting solutions for Microsoft
(SharePoint, Exchange & Exchange Online, Lync), Blackberry and IBM applications
environments. GSX is a proactive and agentless solution to help migrate and manage your
messaging and collaborative environments, whether it is on-premises or in the cloud.
Currently, we have over 600 customers and are monitoring over 6 million mailboxes
Our success in the monitoring marketplace is thanks to several reasons:
• GSX Monitor & Analyzer is an agentless solution that allows for a seamless
installation which does not impact the performance of your servers.
• Our monitoring dives deeper than most tools. Our focus goes beyond “server-up”
and “server-down” monitoring; we focus on the performance of your environment
from an end-user perspective.
• Our reporting tool, GSX Analyzer, allows you to create automate reports on the
size, usage and performance of your environment.
• Multi-platform monitoring means we can monitor SharePoint, Exchange On-
Premises, Exchange Hybrid and Exchange Online all from a single dashboard.
Customers may have multiple sites across a country, a continent or even the world.
Moving to the cloud often means you have to select one cloud datacenter, even if your
offices are spread around the globe.
• How do you control, anticipate and fix performance problems for users working in
a distributed environment?
• How do you know if the user experience of the cloud in New York is the same as
for the ones in Brazil or Singapore?
The only way to measure performance properly is from the user perspective, using the
cloud infrastructure from multiple sites in order to anticipate, detect, diagnose and fix
all the latency problems which are bound to happen. GSX provides a real-time and
consolidated view of the user experience from multiple locations so you can proactively
compare, trend, identify bottlenecks, manage alerts and analyze the services. With our
multi-station architecture, GSX can detect if certain sites have problems as compared to
others, and determine whether the problem exists with the Exchange Online itself, or is
because of network latency from the ISP or internal network.
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2- GSX Cloud Synthetic Transactions
GSX Monitor & Analyzer allows IT administrators to perform synthetic transactions to
determine service levels of an application from an end user perspective, such as opening
a mailbox, creating a folder, performing a task, sending an email etc.
Mail routing can be done from on-premises (Domino and Exchange) to Exchange online,
from online to online, or from online to echo (Internet and return). GSX tests five routes
to control the email’s entire path:
• Online to Online: GSX creates the email the same way an Outlook client does and
then checks regularly to ensure that the mail has been delivered. If it has, GSX
connects to the mailbox, opens the mail and checks the header to read the exact
date of delivery.
• Exchange Online to echo: GSX tests the interaction time with an external mail
service and measures how long it takes to send a message from an Exchange
Online mailbox to another company, as well as how long it takes to receive an
email from an external mailbox.
• IMAP and POP: GSX sends an email from Exchange Online to an external
messaging system that works with these protocols. Contrary to the echo which
measures round-trip routing, here GSX measures the one-way mail routing.
• SMTP: GSX can create an email from any SMTP service on the Internet to Exchange
Online. It figures out the speed of external service to Exchange Online, which is
the exact opposite of the previous test.
• Attachments: GSX can make sure that larger emails with attachments follow the
same performance measures.
GSX performs every step that Outlook would have to do when a user is connecting to an
Exchange Online Mailbox. If any problems happen during each of these steps, GSX will
report the errors in email alerts (for example: authentication problem, server connection
problem, mailbox right problem, etc.).
Create Folder and Task
Creating a folder in an online mailbox involves multiple tasks and checks:
-­‐ Connect to Exchange
-­‐ Authenticate as a user
-­‐ Display the name of the mailbox
-­‐ Count the number of items in that
-­‐ Discover and count all folders
-­‐ Check the number of unread items
-­‐ Create the folder locally on the
-­‐ Browse all the folders of the mailbox
-­‐ Check that the folder doesn't already
-­‐ Insert the new folder in the mailbox
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To create a task, GSX automatically goes through the same steps Outlook does in creating
Create a Meeting
The creation of a meeting implies multiple actions that are linked with the property of a
meeting. GSX automatically:
• Creates an appointment locally with all its characteristics
• Invites attendees
• Uploads an attachment
• Saves the meeting in the mailbox
• Sends the meeting to all recipients
Create an Email
As GSX always starts by opening the mailbox of the monitored user, the first steps are
always the same. Then:
• The mail is created inside the mailbox
• The mail is either sent to another mailbox, saved as a draft or saved in a
• The object in the mail can be specified
• An attachment can also be uploaded
Download an Attachment
In order to test the time it takes for a user to be able to download an attachment, or
whether it can be downloaded at all, GSX offers multiples paths. Of course, it has to start
with the opening of a mailbox as usual. Then, GSX can download the attachment of a
previously selected email or a newly created one.
In both cases, GSX:
• Opens the mailbox
• Retrieves the email where the attachment had to be downloaded
• Checks how many attachments there are in the email
• Downloads the first one
• Erases the attachment if everything went well
Search for an Item
As in all the scenarios, GSX first starts by opening a mailbox where the search will be
performed. Then, GSX:
• Performs a recursive search where it looks in every folder and child folder for
a specific word
• Tests the availability and the performance of the Exchange Online Fast Search
• Checks if it was able to find at least one item, otherwise the search fails.
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Resolve a User
A resolve-user action is the ability for the mailbox to find contacts in the user’s contact
folder and the global address list (GAL). When you create an email, the Outlook client
can auto-complete the name and email address. If this isn't working, each email address
must be entered manually.
3- Custom Scenarios
Now that each of the scenarios have been described, let’s see how you can combine them
to focus on true user simulation and the ability to manipulate objects with Exchange
Online. Custom scenarios allow IT administrators to link various scenarios together in
order to gain visibility into the performance of each step, as well as the global
performance of the complete process. Custom scenarios also help measure two very
important metrics and capabilities. By linking the scenarios, you can:
• Create scenarios which really reflect what a user would do at a certain time of
• Test the ability and the performance of Exchange Online to use items and
objects that it creates.
4- Analyzing Performance Problems
Monitoring URLs – Why is it Valuable?
Monitoring URLs allows you to compare latency between actions performed on Exchange
Online by simply pinging the Exchange Online Portal. On top of that, you can also monitor
an intranet page to measure your own network latency. The URLs that GSX can monitor
-­‐ Exchange Online Portal to view any latency created by accessing the portal
-­‐ A trusted service on the Internet, like the Bing webpage
-­‐ Intranet URL to measure internal network latency
Analyzing the performance of these URLs and comparing that with the performance
metrics of the other scenarios lets you drill down to the root cause of performance
Exchange Online Performance Problems
Performance problems with Exchange Online will be detected if the performance of
various test scenarios drops while the performance of the Exchange Online Portal remains
stable. In this case, you cannot blame your internal network or your Internet provider—
decreased performance comes from Exchange Online itself.
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If you notice an increase in the latency of the Exchange Online Portal in conjunction with
an increase of the number of scenarios you are running—and if you crosschecked that
with an external website (e.g. bing.com)—then there is a high probability that the
problem comes from your network. If you compare Exchange Online Portal’s latency with
an internal URL, you will know if the problem comes from your Internet service provider.
Otherwise, you may look for the problem on the network topology, network switch or
Exchange Online Upload Bandwidth Problems
If the time to access the Exchange online portal rises with the scenarios in the same
proportion, and your bing.com URL checks don’t have any problems, you will know that
your infrastructure or Internet provider is not the problem. Most likely, bandwidth levels
while uploading Microsoft online are the culprit.
Measuring the Quality of the Network Infrastructure
By looking at GSX as a user, you can place this user in multiple sites. For example, you
can measure performance for users against an intranet page to check the performance of
your own network infrastructure. Similarly, by checking performance against an external
webpage, you can measure the quality of the service provider's network. What's most
important in either case is to look at the variation of various metrics over time.
5- Monitoring and Troubleshooting Specific Users
Performance and up-time can be extra-critical for some users, like executives. During
and after the migration, it's important to ensure that these mailboxes are working within
acceptable levels. If an executive does complain, you need to know if the lack of
performance is real or perceived, and if the issue is ongoing or periodic. With GSX
Monitor & Analyzer, you can measure the performance from a particular user's
perspective, and detect whether the problem comes from the network, Internet
connection or Exchange Online.
6- Analyzing the Performance and Comparing Sites
GSX Analyzer allows IT administrators to access information about end-user performance
through statistics, alerts and reports from anywhere.
Access By Profile
GSX Analyzer is based on profile access. This means that, as a super administrator of the
platform, you can delegate access to multiple profiles which have different rights. For
example, an IT administrator can give access to the Boston network administrator to the
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statistics of his site, while you as a “super administrator” of the tool will have the ability
to see and compare the performance of all the sites at the same time.
GSX Analyzer not only collects statistics about your cloud or hybrid environment, it’s also
an easy-to-use and powerful tool to build automatic reports on the availability and
performance of the service delivered by Exchange Online and your underlying
infrastructure. Reports are configured in seconds and PDFs can be customized and sent
automatically on a daily, weekly and monthly basis to multiple profiles (network, service
management, IT management, etc.).
GSX Analyzer allows you to view statistics in real-time in order to compare performance
from multiple sites by detecting peak usage times and lack of performance, and by
analyzing through URLs monitoring/multiples scenarios where problems arise, if any
happen. Analyzer’s trends feature also allows you to create performance forecasts with
just a single click. Moreover, GSX Analyzer provides you with an intuitive way to monitor
your SLAs. The Environmental Health View provides instant templates that help you
identify in seconds if one or several of your sites experience any performance problems.
Up and Down in Count Up and Down in Time
The up and down in count are very
important to follow. A down can last only a
few milliseconds, however, even if these
milliseconds minimally affect the overall
availability, a down on a scenario means
that the action was impossible to achieve.
So, even if the down lasts a few
milliseconds each time, from a user
perspective the overall perception of
performance will be seriously affected if
you have too many down periods. That’s
why trending these statistics for each
scenario, simple or custom, is very
important to have a clear insight on the
user experience. You can also compare your
number of downs from one site to another
site that affect the overall availability of
the Exchange Online services.
Downtime should always be minimal. If you
receive too many alerts about downtime
from any GSX station, you should
immediately open the monitoring console
and check the last 3,000 scans to identify
any recurring problem. To keep an eye on
downtime from a wider perspective, you
should run a report in Analyzer with the
online scenario’s downtime compared to
the downtimes of the Exchange Portal URL
and a witness site.
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5- Migrations – A Never-Ending Story
There are various challenges you face when planning a migration and it can be a struggle
to ensure security and effectiveness while maintaining productivity and avoiding major
performance problems. Messaging systems have built-in tools that provide you with
partial monitoring, but it’s critical to have a third-party tool to ensure that SLAs are
1- Using GSX Monitor & Analyzer to Prepare for a Migration
to Exchange Online
Any migration works more or less the same way. You need to know what you have, what
you want to migrate, do the migration, and proactively fix problems which happen
without any impact on the end users.
GSX Monitor & Analyzer enables you to:
• Prepare for your migration by understanding your current environment
• Anticipate performance issues in the cloud and across multiple sites
• Monitor user impact during the migration
• Analyze the performance of the new environment
Exchange Online Readiness Assessment
• GSX automatically discovers your on-premises Exchange environment
• GSX collects statistics about the usage of your mailbox (size, quota, location,
• GSX measures the performance of the service of your internal Exchange
• GSX evaluates the load of each server (number of connection, mail flow, etc.)
• GSX measures the level of services delivered to the end users (through the end
As GSX is completely agentless and easy to use, it only takes a matter of minutes to
collect all of this information in a clear and understandable user interface which also
allows you to predict your future needs (storage, load, performance, etc.).
As GSX works exactly like a user, it should be the first user you move to your Exchange
Online environment. GSX helps you prepare each site for migration to ensure that the
Exchange Online migration will increase the availability and performance for each user.
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Creating the First Couple of Monitored Test Users/Mailboxes per Site
Each site that you want to check before migration should have a GSX scan engine
installed to run scenarios on two different “monitored test users/mailboxes.” Why two?
Because one of them will be migrated to the cloud. Then, you will have the exact
comparison of the performance of the two users on-premises, and one user on-premises
and the other one in the cloud.
Checking the Ability of Your Infrastructure to Work with Exchange
As you create two users on-premises, you can first perform the custom scenarios on them
that will connect these two users:
-­‐ Creation of a meeting with these two users involved
-­‐ Mail routing between both
Once you migrate one of these two users in the cloud, you can test—in advance and in
real-time—the ability of your infrastructure to work with Exchange Online in a temporary
or hybrid environment. You can trend the performance before and after the test
migration to see if the interaction between these two users suffers.
Comparing the Performance of Your Infrastructure with Exchange
This is the point where it is highly recommended to configure basic scenarios, as well as
custom scenarios, to measure the performance of your current on-premises infrastructure
and Exchange Online. GSX will check the speed of attachment downloads, searches and
meeting, email and task creation.
Ensuring Mail Routing Performance
It's critical to monitor mail routing performance in advance as it can cause serious
bottlenecks during migration.
To be sure that everything will work well from all the sites, you will:
-­‐ Compare the performance of your on-premises mail routing with that of
Exchange Online (on-premises to on-premises routing versus online-to-online
-­‐ Compare the performance of mail routing to and from the Internet by routing
scenarios to an echo service from multiple sites, both on-premises and in the
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Identifying Bandwidth Problems
GSX will check the performance of your network and Internet provider through the URL
monitoring. All the tests measure the quality of the network infrastructure, which will
help you identify bottlenecks that could cause performance problems.
Solving Performance Problems
In GSX Analyzer, you can easily compare the performance of your on-premises monitored
users with your new online monitored users in order to ensure that performance and
availability will persist once migration is completed. As most potential problems can be
detected before the migration with GSX, stress and costs linked to migration projects will
decrease while ensuring user satisfaction and adoption of the new environment.
2- How to Monitor the Migration Itself?
Migrating the “monitored user mailbox” gives you very important information about what
you should expect from a user-performance perspective, and the capability of your on-
premises infrastructure to work with Exchange Online without impacting users. In pre-
migration tests, GSX checks that the users will be able to interact with each other,
whether working from an on-premises environment or a cloud one. Finally, as GSX
continues to check and collect statistics on your on-premises infrastructure, you will be
able to monitor the reduced load on servers and ensure that everything works as
expected for users who are still on-premises when you move online.
3- After the Migration
After you have fully migrated to the cloud, GSX continues to ensure the performance and
availability of service delivery from all sites and for all users.
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GSX Monitor & Analyzer for Exchange Online is the only tool on the market that measures
and compares the Exchange service your company provides to your end users. It provides
you with in-depth custom scenarios which not only test the performance and availability
of your environment, but allows you to simulate a user in day-to-day actions.
It gives you a unique ability to:
- View and compare the service delivered to your users from multiple sites
- Detect problems on any site within your organization
- Prepare and secure your migration from your previous messaging system to
GSX Monitor & Analyzer goes beyond a simple monitoring and reporting tool as it:
- Guarantees the success of your migration
- Guarantees the users’ satisfaction and adoption of the cloud
- Decreases your number of support calls and associated costs
- Provides critical information on the quality of the infrastructure and services
7- Your Next Action
To learn more about how GSX can support you in making your IT projects a success:
• Request a demonstration of the GSX suite through our website by filling out the
form at http://web.gsx.com/request-a-demonstration-microsoft-exchange-and-
• Contact us at email@example.com