On March 16, Microsoft Office 365 was down for nearly three hours, affecting thousands of Microsoft cloud users across Australia. Microsoft’s cloud services including Office 365, Hotmail, SkyDrive and other Live cloud-based products suffered intermittent outages over several hours. Some users were not able to access their inboxes and one user tweeted that Microsoft stated his mailbox did not exist. Frustrated users received access to their email after a nearly three-hour wait-time, with vague status updates that are only available to registered Office 365 users.
Similar to past outages, Microsoft tweeted that issues were resolved when in reality the problem had not been fixed. An hour after the first outage reportings at 2:45 AEST, Microsoft’s senior vice president for Windows Live, Chris Jones, announced that services had been restored. However, just an hour later at 4pm, he said that customers were still reporting problems.
Microsoft tweeted that it was investigating issues, and attributed the cause of the outage to DNS issues.
Bill Laing, Microsoft corporate vice president of the server and cloud division, wrote in a blog post, “The three truths of cloud computing are: hardware fails, software has bugs and people make mistakes.” This is not the best way to tout Microsoft Office 365, especially when other cloud offerings like Google Apps do not rely on hardware with a single point-of-failure, software is constantly updated (and when bugs arise, Google makes no secret of it– See the Apps Status Dashboard), and Google regularly beats its 99.9% uptime commitment.
We agree with ZDnet, which had the following to say about Microsoft’s subpar track record in the cloud:
“Every cloud service stumbles from time to time, but Microsoft needs to string together a few outage-free months to establish its uptime chops.”