This Week's Cloud Outage: Microsoft BPOS

By Jessica Davis Print this article Print

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Does anything whip end-users into a bigger frenzy than an email outage? That's just what Microsoft BPOS customers and their ever-suffering IT administrators were dealing with this week as Microsoft experienced downtime for its hosted Microsoft Exchange email service, as reported here and here and here.

The stories include tales of one IT pro who pushed his organization to move from on-premise Microsoft Exchange to the cloud, telling everyone it would be better, but ultimately admitting that he regrets ever making the move. There's talk of downtime and lost emails and not a lot of communication from Microsoft about what the problem was and how it was being addressed. And days after the problems began, Microsoft finally addressed the issues, the causes and apologized to users here.

Microsoft's BPOS outage comes at an unfortunate time for the software giant. The company is getting set to launch the next version of BPOS, Office 365, next month. And this outage comes on the heels of a major Amazon.com cloud outage that brought down several very popular websites.

Both companies eventually apologized to users and eventually explained the causes behind the outages and how they were working to prevent them in the future. They also acknowledged that their communications with customers during the outages could have been better. There's no doubt that that is true.

And maybe, just maybe, these outages will cool down some of the hype about the cloud and slow down the rush to get there. Will it ultimately stop businesses from moving to the cloud if it makes good business sense for them? No. Will it cause everyone to keep email on-premise? Very doubtful. But perhaps it will put on the brakes for a little bit, and that may not be such a bad thing.

The cloud is currently being touted as the solution to everyone's problems. IT as a utility will let us only pay for what we use. We won't have to worry about maintaining the infrastructure. We won't be responsible for outages.  But if it turns out the cloud is less reliable than on-premise solutions what have we really saved? And if we have to suffer through the outages, helpless until someone else fixes them, what have we gained? And if we are paying a monthly rate instead of investing in our own infrastructure, will the time come when we decide we want to reduce those monthly fees again and invest in our own infrastructure?

What do you think? And what are your customers saying?


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This article was originally published on 2011-05-13