Monitoring Large Lists in SharePoint Online with Office365Mon

One of the enduring realities I saw over and over in my many years working at Microsoft with SharePoint, is that customers LOVE the lists they can create in SharePoint.  They’re super easy to set up, you can quick do all kinds of sorting, filtering and searching on them, and it requires no technical expertise to get up and running and with them.  This led to another enduring reality, which is that many customers started loving lists TOO much.  I saw many, many customers over the years that had lists that had just exploded in size.  As these lists grew larger, the performance in using them tends to get worse and worse.  This problem was also compounded by the fact that many developers saw SharePoint lists as a quick and easy place to store data for their application.  That meant even bigger lists sizes, and more people using them more often.

Over the years, we developed lots of documentation and options for improving the performance of your lists.  As customers have moved to SharePoint Online in Office 365 though, we would occasionally hear people ask if it had the same large list limitations as SharePoint on premises does…and the answer is yes, it does.  Now as more customers are moving their SharePoint on premises data to SharePoint Online, we see increasing concern about how the lists they do have are going to perform once it’s all up in Office 365.  Fortunately, at Office365Mon, we’ve just released a new feature designed specifically to help you stay on top of this issue.

List Monitoring is a feature that lets you select one or more lists in SharePoint Online for us to monitor.  For the lists that we’re monitoring, we will do a couple of things:  first, we’ll issue health probes for each list that we’re monitoring and render the default view for it to see what the performance is like.  That’s typically one of the first places where you’ll see performance issues with a large list.  You can configure List Monitoring so that it will send you a notification if it takes longer than “x” seconds to render the default view, where “x” is a number that you decide.

The second thing we’ll do is keep tabs on how large the list is, i.e. how many items it contains.  Again, you can set a threshold for us to look for, and when a monitored list gets bigger than that threshold, we’ll send you a notification to alert you to it.  So, for example, if you’re worried about a large list approaching that magic 5,000 item limit, you can have us notify you when it’s getting close.  Here’s a screen shot of where you configure the monitoring thresholds:

MonLargeLists1

Selecting the lists to be monitored is also quite simple – we provide you with a collection of all of the lists in the SharePoint Online site that we’re monitoring, and you can just check boxes next to the lists you want us to monitor for you.  It can be any of the lists that come out of the box with SharePoint, or any custom list that you’ve created:

MonLargeLists2

Once we’ve started monitoring lists for you, not only will we notify you according to the thresholds you’ve configured, but as you’ve come to expect from Office365Mon, we also have a nice set of reports you can use to see where you stand.  To begin with, you can see the performance of the recent health probes we’ve issued against monitored lists in our Average Response Time report.  It shows the performance of all of the resources that we’re monitoring for you, including monitored lists.  We also have a new report that shows you the average performance each month just for your monitored lists:

MonLargeLists3

In addition to that, we have a report that shows you the size of your monitored lists each day, so you can visualize any growth trends that might be happening that you need to get in front of:

MonLargeLists4

We also provide a monthly view of the average size of each monitored list, so you have a longer-term view of how rapidly your lists are growing:

MonLargeLists5

Being aware of large lists and their impact on performance is one of the best ways to ensure a good experience for your users.  I’ve heard many, many times from customers that say “our site is slow”.  There are lots of reasons why that might be, but a couple of the most common reasons are slow query times and large lists.  At Office365Mon we’ve provided monitoring for your query execution time for nearly a year now.  With the new List Monitoring feature, now you can also know when you have large list performance problems.  Once you know that, you can start working on a mitigation strategy – splitting the data out into multiple lists, creating customized views of the data, etc., etc., etc.  There are a lot of different things you can do to work on improving the performance, but if you don’t know you have a problem then you’ll forever be stuck wondering why your users keep telling you that your “site is slow”.  Take advantage of features like these to stay in the know and stay in control of your Office 365 tenant, and keep everyone happy.  Start by visiting us at https://www.office365mon.com and clicking the Configure…List Monitoring menu.

This is yet another feature at Office365Mon that was driven from feedback by our customers.  I hope you’ll take a look at this feature and as always, let us know how we can make it better as well as ways in which we might be able to help you to do Office 365 monitoring even better.

From Sunny Phoenix,

Steve

 

Know When Your Office 365 Email Gets Stuck in Transit From Office365Mon

One of the things that we’ve done from day one when monitoring Office 365 is to let you know if your Exchange mailboxes are working or not.  While that’s an absolute necessity and quite valuable, it still left part of the story untold – until now.  One of the things we heard from customers is “my mailbox seems fine, but I sent an email 30 minutes ago and it hasn’t arrived yet”.  Or “I was told they sent me an email a couple of hours ago but I haven’t seen it yet”.  For those that have witnessed this behavior before, you know that sometimes email gets stuck in transit.  Your mailbox may be working fine, but if messages aren’t going out or coming in, then it can be a real problem.

At Office365Mon.Com, we’re addressing this with our new Email Transport Monitoring feature.  The Email Transport Monitoring feature lets you monitor both outbound messages – those that you send – and inbound messages – those that you receive.  You can set a delivery time for each direction, and if our health probe messages don’t arrive within that timeframe, we’ll send you a notification.  Like all of our other notifications at Office365Mon, that can be emails, text messages, and/or our webhook service.

Configuring monitoring for your email transport is incredibly simple.  Go to our web site and start here:  https://www.office365mon.com/Configure/EmailTransport.  This is a screenshot:

configemailtransport

It’s pretty simple – if you want us to monitor email transport, just check the box and tell us how long to wait before notifying you when a message doesn’t show up.  If you don’t check the box, then we won’t monitor it for you.

Once we’ve started monitoring it for you, there are some very nice reports you get.  To begin with, you’ll see the message delivery times for everything we’ve been monitoring over the previous 12 hours:

emailtransportrecent

In addition to that, you get monthly summary numbers so you can see what your delivery times have been:

emailtransportmonthly

Also, we have a report that shows you every message that was so slow it triggered a notification, so you can always review the history of when you had issues.  In addition, you will see email transport performance information rolled up into our Power BI reports.  The raw data for these reports is also available for download from our site if you have the Report Data feature enabled, and you can also programmatically retrieve it via our reporting REST API.

This is another in a long line of customer suggested features we’ve implemented.  Like the others, it’s a super scalable cloud-only monitoring feature that doesn’t require you to install any software, anywhere.  It’s available today as a Preview feature on our site at http://www.office365mon.com.  Just go to the Configure menu and click on Email Transport Monitoring – then check the boxes for the directions you wish to monitor.  All customers get this feature free to try for 90 days so check it out and let us know what you think.  After 90 days you can get this feature with our new Enterprise Platinum license.  See our site at https://www.office365mon.com/Products/Pricing for more details on pricing.

As always, thanks so much for all of the great suggestions.  We listen and continue to build on your needs.

From Sunny Phoenix,

Steve

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