Office 365, now known as Microsoft 365, is a suite of cloud-based productivity and collaboration tools offered by Microsoft. It includes popular services such as Outlook (for email), Word, Excel, PowerPoint (for document creation and editing), Teams (for communication and collaboration), SharePoint (for content management), OneDrive (for file storage and sharing), Azure AD (for identity and application management), and Intune (for company device management) among others.
For businesses that run on Office365, monitoring the performance and activity within the cloud environment is crucial for several reasons. It involves keeping track of various aspects of the cloud-based productivity suite, such as:
- Service Health: This involves monitoring the status of the various Office 365 services to ensure they are operational and not experiencing any issues or outages.
- Performance: This includes monitoring the speed and responsiveness of the services, as well as any factors that could impact performance, such as network latency or server issues.
- User Activity: Monitoring user activity can provide insights into how the services are being used, which can help to identify training needs, ensure compliance with data security protocols, and detect any unusual activity that could indicate a security threat.
- License Usage: This involves tracking the usage of Office 365 licenses to ensure they are being utilized effectively and to identify any needs for additional licenses or opportunities for cost savings.
- Security and Compliance: This includes monitoring for any potential security threats or breaches, as well as ensuring compliance with data security and privacy regulations.
This is essential because it ensures that different services are available and performing optimally, resulting in a seamless user experience. Downtime or performance issues can significantly impact productivity, so proactive monitoring helps to identify and resolve issues before they affect end-users.
Moreover, monitoring can provide insights into how different services are being used, which can inform decisions about resource allocation, training needs, and compliance. For instance, monitoring can reveal if licenses are being underutilized, if users are not following data security protocols, or if there is an unusual level of activity that could indicate a security threat.
However, monitoring your entire cloud environment is no small task. There's more than a few best practices to keep in mind. What's more, there are situations where built-in M365 monitoring tools might fail and custom solutions prove necessary to keep up with your organization's needs. This guide will cover everything you need to know, equipping you with all you need to develop a comprehensive monitoring and reporting program for Microsoft 365.
Key Metrics and Events to Monitor Across Office 365
Monitoring your Office 365 cloud environment involves keeping track of a wide range of IT metrics and events across various services and applications. Here's a detailed list of what to monitor:
Service Health Metrics
- Service Status: Monitor the operational status of each Office 365 service. This includes checking for any service disruptions or outages.
- Incident Reports: Keep track of any incidents reported by Microsoft that could impact the performance or availability of Office 365 services.
User Activity Metrics
- Active Users: Track the number of active users for each service. This can help identify which services are most used and which are underutilized.
- User Operations: Monitor user activities such as file uploads/downloads, emails sent/received, meetings scheduled, etc.
- Login Activities: Keep track of successful and failed login attempts. Multiple failed attempts could indicate a potential security threat.
License Usage Metrics
- License Allocation: Monitor the number of licenses allocated versus the total number available. This can help identify if additional licenses need to be purchased or if existing licenses are underutilized.
- License Expiry: Keep track of license expiry dates to ensure timely renewal and avoid service disruption.
Azure Active Directory Metrics
- Sign-In Activity: Monitor successful and failed sign-in attempts. Multiple failed attempts could indicate a potential security threat.
- User Activity: Track user activities such as password changes, group membership changes, role assignments, etc.
- Audit Logs: Regularly review audit logs to identify any unusual or suspicious activity.
- Security Alerts: Monitor security alerts generated by Azure AD Identity Protection, such as risky sign-in behavior or potential vulnerabilities.
- Directory Synchronization: If you're using Azure AD Connect to synchronize your on-premises directory with Azure AD, monitor the synchronization status and any errors that occur.
- Resource Utilization: Monitor the utilization of Azure resources such as virtual machines (CPU, memory, disk usage), databases (transaction rate, storage), etc.
- Network Performance: Track network performance metrics such as bandwidth usage, packet loss, and latency.
- Service Health: Monitor the health and availability of Azure services that you're using.
- Cost Management: Keep track of your Azure spending to ensure it's in line with your budget.
- Security and Compliance: Monitor security alerts, review audit logs, and ensure compliance with data security and privacy regulations.
- Device Compliance: Monitor the compliance status of devices managed by Intune. Non-compliant devices could pose a security risk.
- Device Inventory: Keep track of all devices managed by Intune, including their status, installed apps, and more.
- App Usage: Monitor the usage of apps managed by Intune. This can help identify which apps are most used and which are underutilized.
- Policy Deployment: Monitor the deployment status of Intune policies to ensure they're being applied correctly.
- Security Alerts: Monitor security alerts related to managed devices and apps.
Mailbox Usage Metrics (Outlook)
- Mailbox Size: Monitor the size of each mailbox to ensure it doesn't exceed the allocated quota.
- Message Send/Receive Rates: Keep track of the number of emails sent and received. A sudden spike could indicate a potential issue.
- Mailbox Permissions: Monitor who has access to each mailbox and what level of access they have. This is important for maintaining security and compliance.
SharePoint Site Usage Metrics
- Active Sites: Monitor the number of active sites. This can provide insights into how widely SharePoint is being used within the organization.
- Storage Used: Keep track of the amount of storage used by each site. This can help identify if additional storage is needed or if existing storage is being used inefficiently.
- File Activity: Monitor file activities such as uploads, downloads, edits, and deletes. This can help identify user behavior patterns and potential security threats.
Teams Activity Metrics
- Active Users: Monitor the number of active users in Teams. This can help identify how widely Teams is being used for communication and collaboration.
- Call Quality: Keep track of call quality metrics such as latency, jitter, and packet loss. Poor call quality can impact user experience and productivity.
- Meeting Statistics: Monitor the number of meetings scheduled, their duration, participants, and more. This can provide insights into how Teams is being used for collaboration.
Security and Compliance Metrics
- Audit Logs: Regularly review audit logs to identify any unusual or suspicious activity.
- Data Breaches: Monitor for any potential data breaches or security threats.
- Compliance Reports: Regularly review compliance reports to ensure adherence to data security and privacy regulations.
5 Microsoft 365 Monitoring Tools IT Teams Should Try
Microsoft 365 Admin Center
The Microsoft 365 Admin Center is the primary portal for managing an Office 365 environment. It provides a unified experience where you can manage all your services and subscriptions. From the Admin Center, you can manage users and groups, manage licenses, view service health information, and access admin centers for all other Office 365 services.
- User and Group Management: Add, delete, and edit users and groups, reset passwords, and manage user roles.
- Billing and Subscriptions: Manage your subscriptions, view and pay your bills, and monitor your service usage.
- Service Health: View the status of all Office 365 services and get detailed information about any issues or incidents.
- Reports: Access usage reports for all Office 365 services to understand how your organization is using Office 365.
- Security and Compliance: Access the security and compliance centers to manage policies, view reports, and start investigations.
Simeon Cloud is a cloud-based solution that automates and manages Office 365 configurations, providing a way to standardize and secure Office 365 tenants. It offers a centralized platform for managing configurations, compliance, and reporting.
- Configuration Management: Manage and automate Office 365 configurations across multiple tenants.
- Compliance Management: Ensure your Office 365 environment is compliant with various standards and regulations.
- Detailed Reporting: Generate detailed reports on your Office 365 environment configurations.
- Audit Trails: Simplify the management and interpretation of the default audit logs provided by Microsoft.
- Regular Backups: Save a snapshot of your Microsoft 365 environment each time there's a settings change.
CoreView's CoreSuite is a robust management platform designed to optimize Microsoft 365 environments. It provides a unified admin interface that consolidates all M365 data, offering advanced features for administration, reporting, automation, and security. The platform aims to increase efficiency, control, and security for IT teams managing Microsoft 365.
- Distributed Administration: Segment your M365 tenant using CoreSuite's Virtual Tenants, allowing local admins to manage only the areas they are responsible for.
- Granular Role-Based Access Control: Create custom roles and delegate specific permissions, enabling non-IT departments like HR and Legal to perform certain tasks.
- Action-Enabled Reporting: Generate actionable reports across multiple M365 services and take immediate actions to resolve issues.
- Workflows & Automation: Automate a series of tasks into a single click through CoreSuite’s workflow engine, streamlining operations and reducing errors.
- Auditing & Forensics: Collect and enhance audit data across Microsoft 365, providing detailed audit trails and the ability to set up alerts based on specific criteria.
SolarWinds Server and Application Monitor
SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor (SAM) is a comprehensive IT monitoring solution that provides detailed performance metrics and alerts for Office 365 services. It offers a unified view of your applications and infrastructure performance in a single dashboard.
- Performance Monitoring: Monitor the performance of Office 365 services and get alerts on performance issues.
- Customizable Dashboards: Create custom dashboards to view the metrics that matter most to you.
- Intelligent Alerting: Get alerts on performance issues and potential problems before they impact users.
LogicMonitor is a SaaS-based IT infrastructure monitoring tool that provides full visibility into complex IT infrastructures, including Office 365. It offers features like infrastructure monitoring, log analysis, and network monitoring.
- Infrastructure Monitoring: Monitor the performance of your entire IT infrastructure, including servers, networks, and applications.
- Log Analysis: Analyze log data to identify trends, troubleshoot issues, and maintain compliance.
- Network Monitoring: Monitor network performance and get alerts on network issues.
How to Choose the Right Office 365 Monitoring Tool for You?
Choosing the right Office 365 monitoring tool for your organization depends on a variety of factors, including your specific needs, budget, and the complexity of your Office 365 environment. Here are some key features and services to consider when making your choice:
1. Comprehensive Monitoring: The tool should provide comprehensive monitoring of all Office 365 services. This includes not only performance monitoring but also usage monitoring, security monitoring, and compliance monitoring.
2. Detailed Reporting: Look for a tool that provides detailed reports on various aspects of your Office 365 environment. This can help you gain insights into usage patterns, identify potential issues, and make informed decisions.
3. Real-Time Alerts: The tool should provide real-time alerts for any issues or anomalies. This can help you respond to problems quickly before they impact users.
4. User Activity Monitoring: The ability to monitor user activity can help you identify unusual behavior that could indicate a security threat. It can also provide insights into how users are using Office 365 services.
5. Compliance Features: If your organization is subject to regulations that require logging of system activities or other compliance features, make sure the tool you choose provides these capabilities.
6. Ease of Use: The tool should be easy to use and intuitive. You don't want to spend a lot of time learning how to use the tool - you want to spend your time using it to monitor and manage your Office 365 environment.
7. Scalability: The tool should be able to scale as your organization grows. If you add more users or expand your use of Office 365 services, the tool should be able to handle the increased load.
8. Cost: Consider the cost of the tool, including not only the initial purchase price but also any ongoing costs for maintenance, support, and updates.
Simeon Cloud is a no-code configuration management solution that automates monitoring and reporting for Microsoft Office 365 environments and configurations. By generating detailed documentation of every change implemented in your Office 365 environment, it allows you ensure proper accountability within your chain of command and revert changes with a single click for business continuity. Want to learn more about how Simeon can help your IT team monitor and report on Microsoft 365? Sign up for a free demo!