This is the second of a three-part post where I present my take on what is happening behind the scenes when you view a page in SharePoint Online. Whilst the title describes the focus to be SharePoint Online, I do stray into other areas of Office 365 like Yammer and Exchange. In the first part I discussed the components that are needed to assemble a SharePoint page and how geography has effect. In this post, I focus upon the processes that make significant contributions to the performance of a SharePoint page.
Consumer vs Corporate
If your users are like our users, then they have performance expectations based on their personal devices and their own internet connections. These expectations are usually at odds to the performance they get when using a corporate device on a corporate network. This then puts Office 365 in a difficult position – they use it at home on their own iPad and it is blisteringly fast, they use it in the office on their corporate pc and it appears to be infuriatingly slow. You know that they are not comparing apples with apples but it’s a comparison that they’ll make so it needs to be managed as part of the adoption communications.
This can be illustrated using page load data. Ad hoc testing using a Corporate PC and a Consumer PC using the same user account, WiFi connection and similar build reveal a pronounced difference in payloads received:
The analysis reveals two key differences:
- For the same page the downloads are much larger on the Corporate PC
- The download size differs by browser
I find the 2nd point a source of amusement – why does Chrome perform better than IE, surely Internet Explorer should be better as it’s a Microsoft product just like Office 365? It’s a question that I cannot answer. I cannot help but chuckle that when I visit our Developers and the likes of Yammer, it’s Chrome that I see on their screens but they are developing for Office 365… I’m hoping that Microsoft’s Edge browser will be a vast improvement.
My summary from the first post was that we can only influence the Page Content as the reminder is controlled by Microsoft. However, we can make improvements through understanding where the content is served from. These improvements should optimise access to and transmission of content from the local touch points of the Microsoft Content Delivery Network as well as from the datacentre that is hosting the tenant.
In this post focussed on the consumer vs corporate user experience as well differences between web browsers. Each one has a major influence on performance or the expectations around performance.
In the final part I will focus upon design choices used in SharePoint Online and in particular one that makes a significant negative contribution to the performance of a SharePoint page. The impact of its contribution may affect your design choices say when creating an Intranet in Office 365.