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3 Reasons to Blame Your Network for Slow Office 365

I stumbled across a webpage the other day, which perfectly captures the frustration knowledge workers experience as productivity apps move to the cloud: “Best practices for using Office 365 on a slow network”. Poor Office 365 performance is all too common these days. After all, we used to access Office programs over the WAN. Now, these apps have moved into cloud data centers that could be a region, a continent, or even an ocean away.

Due to issues like latency and network congestion, poor performance from Office 365 is now a common problem faced by enterprises all around the world.

This is why many CIOs and IT Managers are turning to Aryaka. These IT leaders receive a steady stream of complaints from employees, and they know they must find an alternative Office 365 connectivity solution, one that delivers the LAN-like experience knowledge workers are used to. After all, there is only so much that following best practices can do to improve performance.

Cloud adoption poses challenges to enterprises
Despite what many vendors claim, the migration of apps to the cloud isn’t a seamless transition. Yes, you’ll benefit from smoother collaboration, automatic backups, and ongoing updates and patches, but your enterprise traffic must now compete against consumer traffic, against e-commerce, streaming videos, and social media.

Thus, it isn’t enough for your business to just subscribe to cloud-hosted services. Guaranteeing fast access to these off-premises applications is equally important. And when legacy network solutions fail to deliver acceptable application performance for your cloud workloads, productivity suffers.

And with Office 365, the problem is even worse.

Office 365 places unique demands on the network. Office 365 requires increased bandwidth for synchronization with Outlook, software updates, template downloads, and a whole lot more. For many organizations, this adds up to a 500% increase in required bandwidth for Office 365. With this much traffic going back and forth – constantly – the firewall becomes a chokepoint, thereby slowing down the traffic even more. It’s a vicious circle that undermines productivity.

With a possible 8 or more connections that may be open in parallel just for Outlook, is it any wonder that the public Internet is ill-suited to this use case?

But it’s not the design of Office 365 that is at fault. It’s the nature of the Internet itself. Here are 3 reasons why legacy networking technologies slow down your Office 365 performance:

1)  Congestion and latency on the public Internet kill performance
The Internet is many things, but reliable isn’t one of them. We all love the Internet because it’s fairly cheap, easy to use, and ubiquitous. Thus, the public Internet has been the easiest and most popular way to connect branch offices to the cloud. Due to its flexibility, easy scalability, and lack of relative complexity, there has been an explosion of consumer and enterprise traffic over the Internet.

In other words, the Internet is a victim of its own success.

As a result, the middle mile of the Internet is a breeding ground for congestion and packet loss, which leads to poor application performance. And when application performance suffers, the end-user experience degrades, and the complaints come rolling in.

2) Slow and expensive MPLS solutions are not built for the cloud
First off, only a handful of MPLS providers have partnered with Microsoft for ExpressRoute (private connectivity to Microsoft cloud resources including Office 365), thereby limiting your choices if you do decide to stick with this outdated networking technology. Many large telcos are trying to establish such a partnership, but are already late to the party. NTT, for instance, will deliver this capability only in February, next year.

In any case, MPLS was the old way of doing things. In today’s cut-throat economic environment, one in which businesses need to stay agile in order to stay competitive, the lengthy deployment schedules of MPLS (from 3 to 6 months, depending on your branch office locations) leaves you twiddling your thumbs while your employees experience frustratingly slow Office 365 performance. MPLS bandwidth is also prohibitively expensive, especially in geographies like China and the Middle East.

3) Legacy networks do not have built-in WAN Optimization
Because MPLS is so expensive, enterprises must do what they can to conserve expensive MPLS bandwidth. To do this, most MPLS-reliant businesses have also invested in CapEx-intensive WAN Optimization appliances on all sites.

Unfortunately, this approach is just not available for cloud applications. When connecting to the cloud to access enterprise applications like Office 365, symmetrical-appliance-based WAN Optimization is simply not possible. Cloud service providers would never support the installation of customer appliances at their data centers. Plus, deploying, maintaining and managing these appliances at branch offices is a Herculean task, so how will you maintain and manage these off-site boxes?

Aryaka’s Network for the Office 365 Cloud
Aryaka’s Network for the Cloud delivers Office 365 acceleration through a private, business-grade cloud overlay network. Through the strategic distribution of POPs, our private network is within 1-5 milliseconds from Office 365 data centers around the world. Our proprietary and patented optimization stack is baked into our fully-meshed private global network, freeing businesses from the hassles of maintaining and managing appliances, while providing optimized access to cloud-hosted instances.


As a Microsoft ExpressRoute partner, we are one of the first network providers to enable our customers with private connectivity into critical Office 365 instances. Enterprises only need to connect to our Network for the Cloud (in less than a day!) to experience enterprise-grade connectivity and fast application performance, along with the flexibility and simplicity of the Internet.

But don’t take our word for it, here’s what one our customers has to say about Aryaka’s Office 365 acceleration solution:

“Our employees used to frequently complain about the slowness of Office 365, which was running over the Internet. We needed a high-performance, cloud-ready wide area network that could make our lives easier. With Aryaka’s Office 365 acceleration solution, our employees experienced terrific performance improvements all over the world. I think, the ability of Aryaka’s solution to connect to cloud providers like Microsoft is phenomenal, and truly helps businesses like us to leverage the benefits of SaaS.” 

– Kenny Gilbert, CIO at InvenSense

Can your MPLS provider do that?
Email me at gary@aryaka.com to let me know your thoughts.

About the author

Gary Sevounts
Gary Sevounts

Gary Sevounts is the Chief Marketing Officer at Aryaka Networks, and is responsible for Aryaka’s global marketing efforts. He has extensive experience with software and SaaS products in the IT infrastructure and security space, as well as marketing and sales technology, having held marketing and product management leadership roles with a number of industry leaders.