September 9, 2011
The Microsoft Office 365 cloud productivity suite — as well as other Microsoft cloud offerings like Windows Live Skydrive and Hotmail — was hit with a widespread service outage affecting users across the globe for as long as three hours. The TalkinCloud team was in bed for most of it, but it seems that the timing was especially detrimental to Australian Microsoft cloud customers.
Microsoft’s Office 365 Twitter account first acknowledged awareness of the service disruption at around 8:45 PM PST, which would have been mid-afternoon Australian time. Fifteen minutes later, the Twitter account came back to life with a report that users in all regions were experiencing intermittent email connectivity issues to Microsoft Office 365. By 9:34 PM, service restoration had commenced.
About an hour and a half later, Microsoft issued two more reports, saying that it was seeing successful DNS resolution across the European and APAC regions. Not long after, at 11:33 PM, Microsoft said that all users should be back online. According to the Windows Team Blog, some users didn’t see their email restored until after midnight PST, thanks to slow DNS propagation.
Those are the facts of the case — but that’s by no means where the story ends. While Microsoft is long on apologies, no explanation for what exactly caused this outage or how many users exactly were affected is immediately forthcoming. But it’s not been so very long since the last time Office 365 had a similar issue, as Google Apps partners recently pointed out.
When it launched on June 28, Microsoft promised Office 365 would be more reliable than its BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite) predecessor. We don’t have a clear feel for Microsoft’s service levels so far, but Office 365 seems to be going dark more than Microsoft and its customers would like…
For channel partners — VARs and MSPs — the Office 365 outages are both a burden and an opportunity. Channel partners are essentially helpless when their Office 365 end-customers go dark. But on the flip side, some partners are recommending hybrid cloud services to ensure on-premise IT keeps humming along even if there’s a cloud outage.
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