Microsoft cloud failure hurts its credibility and prospects for Office365

Outages aren't the problem; silence and a lack of options are the problems

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The days-long SAAS outage Microsoft only admitted after the fact won't do much to encourage customers disenchanted with the bloated, expensive Office suite to stick with Office by signing up with the cloud-based Office365 instead.

Starting Thursday, email and some other services were unavailable on Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Services (BPOS) service. BPOS is a SAAS bundle of Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Communications Online and Live Meeting, all hosted by Microsoft.

Customer forums were filled with complaints about having to go three days wihtout email, and intermittent problems going all the way back to January.

The problem cropped up the form of "malformed email traffic," according to Microsoft, which resulted in email delays of up to six hours. Later problems with DNS failures, messages backups and a second wave of malformed email caused the ongoing problems, according to Microsoft's explanations.

The outages affected BPOS, not the new Office365 service, which was opened for beta testing last month, Microsoft was careful to point out.

Unfortunately, the Dashboards and constant updates Microsoft promised BPOS users didn't give much information about the outage or how to work around it until two days after the initial failure.

That delay is an example of "the cavalier way Microsoft's treating its paying customers. Again." according to InfoWorld's Woody Leonhard, who is testing Office365.

Microsoft also offered no updates, notices or warning during a series of email outages August and September of 2010, Leonhard wrote.

Occasional outages – as with Amazon – have to be expected in SAAS or cloud services. They're a problem, as they would be with any IT failure.

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