Microsoft Office 365

Microsoft Office 362

In May I was in Norway presenting a round of workshops, and a couple of the people there jokingly called Microsoft Office 365 by a different name — “Office 362.” By the looks of the outages of the past week, they were getting close to the truth.

Microsoft’s Exchange Online hosted email service suffered a disruption Tuesday morning, leaving many users without email for much of the morning. As of 1 p.m. EST, some customers were reporting service had been restored, though others expressed dissatisfaction in an Office 365 forum at Microsoft’s handling of the situation.

Users began reporting the outage early Tuesday morning. “Some Exchange customers are experiencing email delays. Our engineering team is actively working to resolve this issue. We recommend customers visit the service health dashboard for real-time updates,” a Microsoft spokesperson told InformationWeek.

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A couple of comments:

1. Yes, it’s annoying, frustrating, and work limiting when you can’t get to your cloud-based services. But that is the trade-off we all embrace when we move from on-premises solutions to the cloud. And there is a trade-off.

2. Affected users / organizations appear to have been more frustrated with Microsoft’s poor communication about the problems than the problem itself. When your communications system goes dark, being kept in the dark about the status of that system isn’t great. Microsoft clearly has some work to do to make a better plan for next time. And there will be a next time.

3. In terms of providing “great customer service,” my colleague Peter Crow wrote about this just the other day in the context of a different web based service. His experience was more positive.

4. Few organizations are able to deliver an internal messaging and collaboration system that works 100% of the time; almost everyone has downtime during the year. However, these outages are usually hidden or limited in scope. When multiple organizations are sharing a common platform, the fact an outage has happened is amplified.

5. Microsoft’s the current cloud provider to have an outage. It’s not the first one. It won’t be the last one. What’s your backup plan for communication and collaboration?