Thousands of Microsoft cloud users across Australia fell victim to a Microsoft Office 365 outage on March 16 that left them without access for nearly three hours. The outage affected everything from Office 365 and Hotmail to SkyDrive and other Live cloud-based products.
During the outage, users reported inabilities to access their inboxes or even, in an extreme case, that mailboxes ceased to exist. As Office 365 users waited, frustrated, during this near three-hour window they received only vague status updates.
Microsoft responded to the issue like it has in the past – by announcing resolutions via Twitter, even when the problems were clearly not resolved. The first outage reports came in at 2:45 AEST and an hour later Chris Jones, Microsoft’s senior vice president for Windows Live, announced a restoration of Microsoft services.
But only an hour after that, Jones announced that customers were still reporting problems with their service. Microsoft continued to respond with Twitter announcements about ongoing investigations into the issues, and credited DNS issues as the cause of the outage.
The Microsoft corporate vice president of the server and cloud division, Bill Laing, also responded to the issue in a blog post in which he wrote “The three truths of cloud computing are: hardware fails, software has bugs and people make mistakes.”
But this comment is interesting in light of the fact that other cloud computing platforms, such as Google Apps, do not use hardware that has even one point-of-failure, constantly update software, and make any bugs well-known through the Apps Status Dashboard. Most convincingly, Google exceeds its 99.9% uptime guarantee on a regular basis.
While no one is perfect, this outage isn’t the first for Microsoft, who has yet to perform outage-free for any significant number of months (Microsoft’s last outage before this was in February and affected Microsoft CRM Online and Office 365, according to ZDNet).
This most recent outage simply furthers the idea that Microsoft’s Office 365 is a significantly less reliable cloud platform than many other established cloud services.
Guest Author: Cloud Sherpas is a leading cloud service provider and was named the “Google Enterprise 2011 Partner of the Year.” As one of the first Google Enterprise partners, Cloud Sherpas has migrated over one million users across a variety of industries from legacy, on-premise messaging systems to Google Apps, helping organizations adopt cloud computing to innovate and dramatically reduce their IT expenses.
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