What is a Beacon?

A beacon is a Windows service, running on a virtual machine (Windows 2012+ or Windows 8+). The virtual machine is dedicated to running this service. A dedicated VM is important because the beacon is testing all aspects of the email user experience and in order to get clean baseline metrics, you need a dedicated VM.

Why should I care?

It is important to constantly monitor the end-user experience because:  

  • Gives helpdesk personnel foresight for potential issues with a user’s experience which results in tickets to helpdesk, infrastructure admins, network admins, etc. 
  • Gives administrators and first level support people a baseline of performance and understand the impact of changes in the environment.  
  • Can provide insight into network conditions and changes to improve user experience.  

What does the Beacon do?

A Beacon manages one or more Office 365 Workload, but only one Workload of each type. A Beacon is visually represented in the Nova Monitoring dashboard as a status icon or a cluster of icons depending on map zoom level 
Quadrotech has provided a worldwide fleet of Beacons free for Nova subscribers. 
Quadrotech Public Beacons:

Customers can install their own Beacons in locations throughout their environment to provide tier 0 user experience monitoring.

What is a Workload?

Each workload runs a unique set of user experience tests.
Active Directory Federation Services (AD FS) Workload tests: Tests SSL certificate health and the performance and functionality of federated sign-in through your on-premises AD FS farm. Combine with the URL scan tests to get a complete picture of your AD FS infrastructure.
Exchange Online Workload tests: Open Mailbox, Create Email, Create Task, Create Folder, Create Meeting, Resolve User against Global Address List, Download Attachment, Free/Busy lookup, Search and send email. All these tests allow you to correlate user experience with potential network or service-related issues. (Read more)
Exchange ActiveSync Workload tests: Simulates Exchange ActiveSync device synchronization, including opening mailboxes, creating tasks and meetings, checking free/busy state, resolving users against an address list. These tests help measure the actual performance and availability that mobile device users will see against Exchange Online.
Mail routing Workload tests: These tests inject mail using Exchange Web Services (EWS) and SMTP, measuring Autodiscover performance, logon performance and functionality, and the performance, end-to-end latency, and functionality of mail routed between mailboxes in the service.
OneDrive for Business Workload tests: performance latency for logon, file upload, and file download.
Skype for Business and Teams Workloads tests: Runs network analysis tests to identify issues in call quality and measures the following: Jitter, Degradation, Packet Loss, Packet Reorder, Latency and Network MOS. Additionally, it provides valuable information that can be used to further investigate network issues which affect call quality. Open a ticket with any network admin and they will ask you source / target IP and port so they can sniff traffic. We provide all of that for you. (Read more)
URL scan Workload tests: Tests the SSL certificate health, HTTP response code, and response time for URLs, allowing you to monitor health of load balancers, SSL accelerators, and other devices in the network path between users and Microsoft 365.

What are monitoring rules?

There are rules applied to each test. For each test there is a pass / fail rule to identify if a test completed successfully. There are also thresholds for each test that are applied if the test completes successfully. When a workload is installed, a default set of rules is applied. A customer can modify those rules when the workload is installed, or they can wait to tune the rules to their specific requirements after they’ve established a baseline for their environment.
Changes to monitoring rules take effect on the next scan run by the workload. Each Workload performs its tests every 60 seconds.

How do I add a beacon?

Go to this article to see how to add a service health beacon.

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