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Cloud Outage Roulette Marble Lands on Microsoft BPOS E-Mail

Matthew Weinberger

May 16, 2011

2 Min Read
Cloud Outage Roulette Marble Lands on Microsoft BPOS E-Mail

Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite Standard (BPOS-S) is currently enjoying its final days as the lynchpin of Microsoft’s cloud strategy before Microsoft Office 365 takes over. But it sounds like it’s not going into retirement quietly: Microsoft is reporting that BPOS-S is back to full functionality after a series of problems kept users from accessing their webmail and delayed delivery of messages by as much as nine hours.

There were apparently three incidents, starting May 10, all with some bearing on the Exchange Online component of the suite. The first two were issues with malformed e-mail traffic, which Corporate Vice-President of Microsoft Online Services Dave Thompson wrote is usually something Exchange can handle – but the first incident delayed e-mail for six hours to nine hours, and the second incident, on May 12, kept messages held up for 45 minutes.

A separate incident, also on May 12, resulted in the failure in the DNS hosting the http://mail.microsoftonline.com domain. From 1:04 a.m. to 4:52 a.m. Pacific, some ActiveSync devices weren’t working properly – and kept users from accessing the Outlook Web App entirely.

The bright side of these e-mail outages, Thompson wrote, is that Microsoft learned some important lessons from all this:

As a result of Tuesday’s incident, we feel we could have communicated earlier and been more specific.  Effective today, we updated our communications procedures to be more extensive and timely. We understand that it is critical for our customers to be as fully informed as possible during service-impacting events. We will continue to improve the timeliness and specificity of our communications.

Thompson also reiterated that this was a BPOS issue with no bearing on any present or future Office 365 service. But it seems odd that this should happen so soon after Microsoft Office Live for Small Business had a “disruption” of its own.

Of course, as in the Office Live incident, the fact that Microsoft is discussing the outage at all puts the company miles ahead of Amazon Web Services, PR-wise. But one question remains: Why are so many cloud services experiencing disruptions recently?

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