Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Tools of the Trade - Office 365 Tools for Hybrid Deployments and Migrations - Part 3

Other articles in this series:

Office 365 Tools Recap

In the two previous posts in this series, we took a look at some tools that are used in the planning and deployment phases of an Office 365 hybrid implemenation or migration.  We explored a couple of the tools used for evaluating your environment's  preparedness for directory synchronization in the first post. Then we devoted the entire second post to the Microsoft Azure Active Directory Sync tool. Now we will wrap up this 3-part series with a look a few helpful tools for diagnosing and troubleshooting connectivity issues after an Office 365 deployment.

Intro to the Tools

There are plenty of tools out there, many by  Microsoft, for troubleshooting environments, and many could be used for troubleshooting connectivity with an Office 365 or hybrid environment. However, in this post we will focus on three tools that will be most helpful for ensuring our public facing configuration is setup properly: the Microsoft Remote Connectivity Analyzer (MRCA), the Microsoft Connectivity Analyzer (MCA), and the Microsoft Lync Connectivity Analyzer.

I felt the above image was appropriate for two reasons. First, Nick Burns is freakin' hilarious. If you have never seen an SNL Nick Burns skit, let me do you a  favor:

The second reason that I felt the above meme was appropriate was because Microsoft sure didn't do us any favors with how similarly these tools are named! Especially when it comes time to take the certification exams, trying to remember which functions matched to which tool when they all sound very similar can be a bit challenging. At any  rate, I have digressed quite a bit, so lets move on to the Microsoft Remote Connectivity Analyzer.

Microsoft Remote Connectivity Analyzer

This tool is simply awesome, and has the capability to help troubleshoot, diagnose, and verify settings for various public-facing applications. For example, it can conduct analsis on Office 365 setups, on-prem Lync and OCS environments, and on-prem Exchange environments, among others. The tool is a website, making it reachable from anywhere, and not at all burdensome to your local device. It can be reached at: https://testconnectivity.microsoft.com.

Once you have arrived at the landing page for the tool, you will immediately notice the availability to test the various server components via the tabbed structure, simplifying navigation. The various tests will help you verify things like your required public DNS records, whether or not SSL certificates check out as they should, and whether or not the servers are responding on the expected ports. They can also test autodiscover settings, and verify credentials for remote access. 

Obviously the best way to get familiar with the individual tests and analysis options is to visit the site and look around on each tab. To get even more familiar with the tool, try feeding it some values for tests that are relevant to your own environment, and explore the output.

Microsoft Connectivity Analyzer

See what I mean about the tools being named similarly? At any rate, this tool is called out as a companion to the MRCA tool, but unlike the MRCA, it is a tool that must be downloaded locally; it is not a web interface. To run this tool, your client must be running Windows Vista or newer, and if running it on a server, the server needs to be running Windows Server 2008 or newer. In each case, the .NET Framework 4.5 is required.

The Microsoft Connectivity Analyzer can be used by administrators and end users, alike. Its main purpose is to test connectivity between email clients and servers running Exchange server. This is where I must stop and ask, why couldn't this tool have been names something like "Exchange Connectivity Analyzer" or "Microsoft Email Client Connectivity Analyzer"? Honestly, wouldn't either of these have been more descriptive and less confusing for the overall collection of tools? I digress....The tool is simply meant to simulate various client logon and mail flow scenarios, and would therefore be a useful tool for related situations in which there is doubt about a client's logon ability, or what mail flow pattern is being experienced.

Microsoft Lync Connectivity Analyzer

This last tool, as you can see WAS named a in a little more descriptive manner. This tool has a very specific purpose. It is meant to determine if a Lync environment, either on-prem or Skype for Business Online, meets the necessary requirements for client connectivity from mobile clients and the Lync Windows Store App. While the name of the tool would almost indicate that the tool was used for testing all connectivity to a Lync environment, it is in fact only used for the tests I just mentioned.

The tool, in the course of its analysis, tests several components. Among them, it checks public DNS records to make sure the  necessary A records and SRV records are in place. It also checks the proxy configuration for the environment. Lastly, but definitely not least important, it checks on the validity of the SSL certificates that are in place.

Wrapping it up...

Well, that about does it for our review of a great set of tools for preparing for,  deploying, and troubleshooting Office 365. I hope you all have found this information helpful, and hopefully it will come in handy while you are transitioning your company to the awesomeness that is Office 365. 

Stay techy, my friends!

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