Office365Mon Now Provides Reports Anywhere with Dashboard Reports

One of the most common requests we receive at Office365Mon has to do with the different types of reporting we provide on the availability and performance of a customer’s Office 365 tenant.  There are dozens of reports out of the box, as well as snapshot reports with the up to the minute availability of these services, and many of our customers have asked how they could get these reports for their own internal web sites.  Today we are announcing a feature to do exactly that – the Dashboard Reports feature from Office365Mon.

The Dashboard Reports feature is designed to let you take the virtually all of the reports available in our site that we get when we monitor Office 365 for you, and add them to any web site you wish with literally a single HTML tag.  In addition to being simple though, it’s also secure.  In order to use Dashboard Reports, you need to go to the Office365Mon site and get a secret key that is required to display Dashboard Reports.  That prevents anyone else from displaying your Office365Mon data.  In addition, you can remove and add keys as needed, so if a key is compromised at some point you can quickly and easily remove it.

In addition to the reports that we’ve had in our report gallery, the two most common requests we had from customers who want to display data in their own internal sites has been the current status information widgets from the My Info page (https://www.office365mon.com/Features/MyInfo).  To enable the display of these widgets in the Dashboard Reports features, we created two new reports and added them to the report gallery.  They display the same information as you find on the My Info page, and look like this:

Service Status

serviceinforpt

Tenant Status

tenantinforpt

Complete instructions for adding reports to your site using the Dashboard Reports feature can be found here:  https://www.office365mon.com/Configure/Dashboard.  It takes just a couple of minutes to create a key to use with your Dashboard Reports, and then to create the HTML tag to actually render it.  The documentation also describes how you can do things like color the report background as well as select which report to show.  Here’s an example of a Dashboard Report being shown in a completely different site from Office365Mon:

dashboardreport

The new Dashboard Reports feature makes it super easy and simple to build your own custom Office 365 health dashboards now with just a few lines of HTML.  Visit our site at https://www.office365mon.com to learn about it and all of the other Office 365 monitoring features available from Office365Mon.Com.

From Sunny Phoenix,

Steve

Monitor for Changes in Your Version of Exchange Online with Office365Mon

At Office365Mon we monitor all sorts of things about Office 365.  One of the early customer requests that we incorporated into our service was the ability to monitor for changes in the version of SharePoint that have been pushed out to your SharePoint Online tenant.  We have had several customers ask for the same type of monitoring and notification when changes occur in Exchange Online, and today we’re happy to announce the availability of just such a feature.

New versions can bring with them changes in the user interface and potential issues for customizations and apps.  That’s why for many customers, it’s critical for them to know when the version of SharePoint Online or Exchange Online changes.  Enabling Office365Mon to stay on top of these changes is quite simple.  When you go into configure your Office365Mon subscription, there is a box that you can check to monitor for version changes:

Monitor for Exchange Online Version Changes

exoversionchange

Monitor for SharePoint Online Version Changes

spoversionchange

One of the main differences between the two is that to monitor for changes in version for Exchange Online, we need a higher level of access to the mailbox being monitored than if we’re just monitoring for availability and performance.  As a result, we strongly recommend that you set up a separate mailbox just for monitoring if you want to have us check for version changes.  This is one of our standard security best practices in any case for Least Privileged Access, and the extra permissions needed to monitor for version changes only reinforces operating with that philosophy.

One of the other changes that we made as part of this feature release is to add webhook notifications for changes in version for both SharePoint Online and Exchange Online.  A webhook allows you go get a programmatic notification, and then you can execute your own workflows when you receive it.  For example, when you get a webhook notification that the version has changed, you can kick off a process to do validation of the features in your tenant or custom applications to ensure that they are all still working as expected with the new version.

We hope you find these new capabilities useful to the management of your Office 365 tenant.  It’s yet another feature set that has been driven entirely based on feedback from our customers.  Please try it out and let us know what you think!

From Sunny Phoenix,

Steve

 

Introducing Monitoring for Azure Secured Web Sites from Office365Mon

Today we’re excited to announce another new monitoring feature at Office365Mon.  Beginning today, we are now offering you the capability to monitor virtually any web site or REST API using the same proven, enterprise grade monitoring capabilities of Office365Mon.  The same service we use for Office 365 monitoring can now be used to monitor your sites that you deploy to Azure web sites, or your SharePoint hosted apps for on-prem or Office 365 sites, or virtually any other site!  You get the power of a monitoring infrastructure that sends out 10 to 20 million health probes a month to keep you in the know of your own web sites and REST APIs now.

All of this will come with the same kind of integration that you’re used to seeing at Office365Mon.  Setup will be extremely quick and easy, all done in your browser as well as via our Office365Mon Management API.  You’ll get the same sort of alert notifications as you do with the other resources we monitor for you – text messages, emails, and webhook notifications.  You’ll also see all of the data we capture about the health and performance of these sites in the same exact reports you use today, whether that’s one of our Standard or Advanced reports, you download your report data from our site, or you use Power BI with the Office365Mon Content Pack.  Here’s an example of a performance report that’s monitoring both Office 365 sites as well as other sites we have hosted in Microsoft Azure:

websitemonitoring

As you can see from the chart above, we’re monitoring:

Your sites and REST APIs can be hosted anywhere of course, as long as it has a public endpoint we can connect to.  It can be an anonymous site, or it can be secured with Azure Active Directory.  We can also monitor REST APIs as long as they don’t require any parameters.

This feature is available in Preview today and ready for you to begin trying out.  Get started by creating your Office365Mon subscription and then adding some sites to monitor here.  Pricing and licensing has not been set yet, but the good news is that like all new features, all existing customers will get 90 days to try it out for free.  Especially while this is in Preview, it’s a great opportunity to take a look and give us any feedback you have so we can fine-tune it to meet your needs.  Like many of the things you see at Office365Mon, this is another feature that was created based on feedback from our customers.

We hope you enjoy this new feature and will take the time to try it out.

From Sunny Phoenix,

Steve

 

Cloud Solution Services Now Available from Office365Mon and TechStar Group

Today I’m very excited to announce a new offering from Office365Mon and our newest Gold Star Partner, TechStar Group.  We are teaming together to take the skills and experience we’ve built while creating one of the most scalable and extensible cloud service solutions you’ll find for monitoring Office 365 – Office365Mon of course!

At Office365Mon we send out tens of millions of health probe queries every single month.  Now we’re bringing those skills out to help you with your move the cloud as well as part of our partnership with TechStar Group.   Our architecture and design demonstrates superb quality at a scale that is beyond what most of even the largest enterprises do. We send out tens of millions of health probe queries every month at Office365Mon, and we do so utilizing all of the leading edge technologies needed to accomplish such a huge task – Azure Active Directory, Office 365 APIs, Azure web apps, Azure cloud services, Azure storage and queueing, SQL Azure storage, and more.

Now, we’ve teamed up with our Gold Star Partner TechStar Group to unleash our team of experts on your cloud projects. We cover everything from architecture and design for new Azure and Office 365 projects, development, cloud migration, and much more. All projects are given oversight by former Microsoft Senior Principal Architect and Office365Mon founder Steve Peschka, so you can rest assured that the work being done will meet the highest quality bar. In addition, TechStar Group brings a number of former Microsoft employees and others with many years of successful technology delivery projects to the table. Together we offer a shared team that’s capable of delivering on the biggest and most challenging cloud projects.

We hope if you are working on cloud applications, services, migrations, etc. that you’ll consider contacting us to find out how our battle tested team of cloud savvy architects and engineers can help you make your own move to the cloud a successful one.  Please contact us to talk to us about your needs:

  • Office365Mon:  Steve Peschka, speschka@office365mon.com
  • TechStar Group:  Garrison Walls, garrison@techstargroup.com

Thanks as always.

From Sunny Phoenix,

Steve

 

Expanding the Office365Mon Subscription Management API

Today we’re happy to announce a slew of new APIs that have been added to our Subscription Management API tool set.  The Subscription Management API at Office365Mon has long been a market differentiator with other solutions in the Office 365 monitoring space.  Our first releases allowed you to manage the basics of the core monitoring features of Office365Mon.  Based on customer demand, we have just released a significant expansion of those APIs.  Our total feature set for managing your Office365Mon subscription has gone from 28 APIs to 46.

The new API support allows you to do things like configure the cloud service for your Distributed Probes and Diagnostics deployments (https://www.office365mon.com/Configure/OnPremProbes), which allows you to issue health probes in conjunction with our cloud service from any geographic location where you have users.  You can also configure the integration with the Office 365 Service Communication API (https://www.office365mon.com/Signup/Status), which allows you to stay up to date with any changes in the status of all of the services and features you have in your Office 365 tenant.  You can also manage Office365Mon’s monitoring of the SharePoint Online search service (https://www.office365mon.com/Configure/SearchMon).  This is critical for virtually all SharePoint customers, since so much of the content is driven by search – such as Content by Query web parts, search-based navigation, etc. – in addition to being used by many, many custom applications.  With these new APIs, you can now manage virtually every single thing using our API that you can do in the browser on our site.

Today’s announcement marks another set of innovative features that were developed based on feedback from you, our customers.  We hope you’ll find these to be valuable additions to the management of your Office365Mon subscriptions.  As always, if you have other requests or ideas for features you would like to see in our service, please just send us a note at support@office365mon.com.

From Sunny Phoenix,

Steve

New Geographic and Notification Features for Distributed Probes from Office365Mon

We’ve just released a significant update to the Office365Mon Distributed Probes and Diagnostics feature.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with this feature, it was originally released a little over a year ago.  From the beginning it was designed to do two things:

  1. Work in conjunction with the Office365Mon cloud service to issue health probes from different geographic regions where you have users. That allows you to check the availability and performance not only from our cloud service, but also from all of the locations where you have users.
  2. When there’s a problem connecting to Office 365, it runs a series of diagnostics on the local network to try and determine if there are any issues. That includes things like checking local network cards, DNS, gateway and a non-Office 365 Internet site.

In addition to the tasks above, it also allows you to set a performance threshold – for example, let me know when it takes longer than x seconds to connect to and get data back from Office 365.  You can set “x” to whatever value you want, so it allows you to set different minimum performance thresholds for each location where you have users.  One of the big reasons we did this is because we got a lot of feedback from our enterprise customers that they had situations where performance may be great in the US for example, but poor or completely down for users in another region, like Europe.

In the previous version of Distributed Probes and Diagnostics, any issues with health probes, performance, or any of the items in the diagnostics checklist was written to the local event log.  You could then monitor the event log in each location where you have it installed to find out when there are issues at a particular location.  That also proved to be pretty helpful if you had to open a support case with Microsoft because of connectivity issues.  They will typically try and triage the issue by looking to see if there are local network issues, versus an issue with the Office 365 service.  By using the Distributed Probes and Diagnostics feature, you can quickly check the event log on the machine(s) where it’s running and if any local network issues were found, it will be logged in there.  That notifies you if an issue is found, saving you a call and allowing you to focus on the real problem, or else validate with support that your local network is fine.

Our new update has all of the same features I’ve described above you’ve come to depend upon, but we’ve also built some very important new pieces to complement it.  Now, in addition to logging data to the local event log, as long as you have a working Internet connection it also reports and sends out alerts through our cloud service.  This opens up some very interesting data points, both from a reporting perspective as well as notifications.

New Reports

When you configure the Distributed Probes and Diagnostics feature now, you are asked to enter the ZIP code where the computer is located on which you installed it.  We use that data for both local and regional geographic data that feeds into the new reports that have been built for the service.  Overall we added 10 new reports to the service to accommodate this new data stream – two Basic reports and eight Advanced reports.

During the beta phase for this release we had the feature running in 8 different countries and more than a dozen locations.  From that data we can create a performance heat map across the globe from all of our customers that are running this service:

 

The picture above shows data from locations in the UK, India and Australia.  You can tell based on the intensity of the color around the push pin which locations are performing worse than others.  For example, Australia has the most intense colors and France has some of the lightest colors, so you can tell at a glance that you have much worse performance in Australia than France.  That’s going to be pretty important to know when supporting your Australian users.

We also create bubble maps to represent the performance in different locations for your Office365Mon subscription.  This gives you another “at a glance” snapshot of what how things are going in different locations.  The key distinction here is that in the report above, you get to see what the data looks like across the globe for all Office365Mon customers; the bubble map lets you see the performance just for the locations associated with your Office365Mon subscription.  That gives you the capability to compare how others are doing in a particular region relative to your users.  If you see a negative difference between them then that may indicate that you have problems in your network in those locations that should be addressed.

Here’s a screenshot of that report, where we’ve drilled down to see just locations in the US:

 

Here we can see that folks out West are getting much better performance than their counterparts in the East.

The graphical maps are a great way to use an “at a glance” view of the performance for your user base, where ever they may be located.  We also offer more traditional views of this data as well though, so you can quickly compare performance on each computer where you’ve installed the Distributed Probes and Diagnostics agent, as shown here:

 

In our case, we had the agent installed in a LOT of locations, so you see a lot of data there.  Again, the number of locations in which it’s installed is completely up to you.

Of course just as important as performance, we definitely have seen scenarios where the service as a whole may be up, but individual regions may be down.  A good example of this is the handful of times a few months ago when there were problems with Azure Active Directory in certain European regions.  Since our cloud service currently runs out of data centers in the US, it did not have any issues connecting to the service because the regional Azure AD services it uses were working.  However, our customers that had the Distributed Probes and Diagnostics agent running in Europe were able to find out first that there was an issue over there, because the probe and authentication process occurred there, where their users are.

We also saw this occur at times during the beta for this release, and you can see that reflected in the new availability reports.  They show availability based on the agents where the Distributed Probes and Diagnostics feature is installed; here’s a screenshot of that:

 

 

New Notification Capabilities

While we’ve added a bunch of new reports, we’ve also vastly improved upon the notification capabilities.  As I was describing earlier, in the previous release of Distributed Probes and Diagnostics, all notifications went exclusively to the local event log.  We still do that, but now these events are also wired up to go out to our cloud service as long as you have a working Internet connection.  Just like you might expect, you get notifications for the same kinds of things you get from our cloud monitoring service – when outages start and end.  But now you are getting those notifications from a specific location, so you can know right away if the service overall is up, but just one or two locations are down.

We also send notifications when the performance for a health probe doesn’t meet the threshold you had defined.  So for example, you could define a threshold of 15 seconds from Melbourne, Australia and 8 seconds from Glasgow, Scotland.  If it takes longer than the threshold you’ve defined for that location, then you’ll get notifications to all of the “channels” that you’ve configured for your Office365Mon subscription – emails, text messages, and webhook data if you have that configured – that indicate the issue and where it’s occurring.  You really will have an up-to-date, around-the-world view of your users’ ability to connect to Office 365 in a reasonable time frame.

Get Started Now

This feature is available to use now for all Office365Mon customers that are either in their 90-day trial period, or that have the Enterprise Premium license.  We hope that you’ll give it a try and, as always, let us know how we can improve upon it.  The features in this update were all driven by feedback from our customers so it DOES matter when you make suggestions.

To get more information on this feature, see our original post about it here: https://samlman.wordpress.com/2015/09/28/announcing-the-availability-of-office-365-on-premise-health-probes-for-office365mon-customers/.  To get get the documentation and agent, visit the Distributed Probes and Diagnostics configuration page on our site here:  https://www.office365mon.com/Configure/OnPremProbes.

Thanks from sunny Phoenix,

Steve

Preview Now Available to Monitor Skype for Business at Office365Mon

Today is a day that we’ve been waiting on for a while. In the past 15 months we’ve been building out a pretty comprehensive service centered around monitoring SharePoint Online and Exchange Online in Office 365. Thanks to some new APIs from Microsoft, we are now happy to announce that we’re adding Skype for Business (SfB) to the suite of products you can monitor with Office365Mon.

While we’re still in preview with SfB you may notice an occasional glitch here or there, but it’s been running in our labs for well over a month now and we’ve had pretty good luck with it. It fits into the same proven architecture that Office365Mon has been using since launch. That means – as always – that we don’t ask you for a username and password to monitor SfB. You simply log in through Azure Active Directory, and when you’re done it hands off an access token to us that we can use. At this time we will be providing monitoring for Skype Presence and Skype Instant Messaging. As the scope of the APIs that Microsoft has for SfB expands, we will also expand our offering into other features of the service, such as online meetings and voice.

Although we’ve always recommended a separate service account(s) to use for monitoring Office 365, with SfB it’s really a must. Because of the way we use the APIs to check presence and instant messaging, if you try using the same account you use at work every day to monitor these services, you likely will end up with a bunch of “stuff” going on that would be quite annoying, plus it would interfere with our ability to accurately monitor the service. To that end, we recommend you use the same sort of process that we outlined in our blog post for monitoring multiple sites and mailboxes: https://samlman.wordpress.com/2015/11/02/how-to-monitor-multiple-mailboxes-and-sites-with-office365mon/. In short you will a) create a new account for monitoring, b) give it a SfB license, c) add it as an admin to your Office365Mon subscription, and d) log into Office365Mon with that account and enable the Skype for Business monitoring.

Enabling monitoring for SfB is about as simple as it gets; here’s a screenshot from the configuration page:

SfBPreview

As you can see, all you have to do is click the Enable button to get things going – that’s it. This is also in line with how we’ve built our solutions at Office365Mon – as simple as possible, with nothing to download and install. There is one thing to remember when you click Enable the first time – you may get prompted by Azure Active Directory two times instead of the normal one, to consent to allow Office365Mon to have access to Skype resources for the account you are using for monitoring. That’s okay, it’s just because of the way the Skype team designed their service.

After that you’re off and running. We’ll automatically add the data to the reports you see for things like outages and recent health checks. You’ll also see the data show up in your My Info page next to all of the other resources we’re monitoring for you:

SkypeMyInfoReport

Finally, there is one other thing worth pointing out. Because of the way the SfB service is designed, there are times when it will be unavailable for monitoring. As we deploy monitoring for it as a Preview feature, we’re continuing to work on alternatives to minimize the alerting and configuration changes that may be needed as a result of SfB changing to an unmonitorable state. This is something that we’ll continue to work on over time, as well as await changes in the SfB architecture that will eliminate these issues.

This feature is available in Preview now for all of our customers to try. Also remember that all new customers get this along with every other feature we offer free for 90 days. So give it whirl and send your feedback our way.

From Sunny Phoenix,

Steve