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Microsoft cloud services hit by outage

Written by James Delahunty (Google+) @ 09 Sep 2011 20:25 User comments (6)

Microsoft cloud services hit by outage Microsoft services hit by outage late Thursday, early Friday.
The outage was caused by DNS issues, according to Microsoft posts while the problem was being fixed. It lasted for around two and half hours late on Thursday night (early Friday morning in Europe.) Affected services included Microsoft's Hotmail e-mail service, Skydrive cloud storage and Office 365.

"We have completed propagating our DNS configuration changes around the world, and have restored service for most customers. Depending on your location you may still experience issues over the next 30 minutes as the changes make their way through the network. Thank you for your patience as we have worked to address these issues," a Microsoft blog read on Thursday night.

Cloud services allow corporate and home users to move their files and computing needs to powerful remote servers. In the case of Office 365, corporations can pay monthly subscription fees for its employees, only paying for services that those particular employees will use.

The advantages are potentially reduced costs, universal access to documents and other materials from anyway there is Internet access, piece of mind that important work is kept safe in the cloud where local system failures cannot destroy it and strong security that these services generally utilize.

However, with this outage of Office 365 and other widely reported cloud-outages (e.g. Amazon EC2), confidence that such services can stay alive 24/7 can be affected. For corporate users in particular, outages to services they pay a fee for could be costly.

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6 user comments

19.9.2011 21:52

LoL...we need more of these outages. Trusting everything to the cloud is a seriously bad idea when the government is Orwellian.

29.9.2011 22:48

The cloud maybe an okay idea for big business. It doesn't make a lick of sense for the average Joe to use.

I don't give a crap about all the hype about the advantages of cloud computing. Fact of the matter is for one, exactly what happened to M$ + if you reach for the cloud(s). you better thoroughly read the EULA. Or at least have an attorney interpret it for you.


310.9.2011 2:43

The cloud is not a good idea for any business that wants to stay in business and control their data. Especially not using anything MS related, they have the worst history of building redundency into their network and software, as bloated as it is.
Cloud is good for free services only, free MS OFFICE to compete with the other free versions if they want. The internet is too unreliable and any business or person that puts critical or personal data on the colud is just asking for trouble to save a few pennies.

When that cloud service shuts down you are stuck, they may allow you to get your data, but there is no software to use it on. When a software company shuts down, you still have the software and can migrate to new software. This most likely would not be an option with most cloud services.

My wife works for a major international company that uses some cloud services, as well as locates all their servers in one city. It is a major problem because most of the workforce must access the servers over the internet, it is really slow and frequently unavailable, even from the company offices. From a IT point of view it is cheaper having all the IT people in one city, but support sucks as does reliability. People spend more time futzing with computers to try to make them work and less time working. Security is so tight that when when traveling, more than 75% of the time they cannot even access e-mail as you have to use propriatiry connection manager and VPN to access the internet and it usually can't connect at all! At one point my wife considered taking a second laptop on travel to connect to the internet, but then they locked it down further and even accessing e-mail from a non-company computer is impossible.

I would only recommend cloud services when the company owns them and the cloud does not extend beyond the company site. Mirrored servers across sites, but locating severs in one city for a large multinational company is painting a target on yourself. Someone only has to hack into one site to steal all your data. Of course the sheer volume makes that prospect almost impossible as well.

410.9.2011 2:49

By the way, this is not the first time this happened for MS, last time it took a couple of days for them to replace the one router that failed. No redundency, no automatic fail-over. Of course I don't think they added that option to any of their server software, although they may have, I have not kept up with all the enterprise server management tools. At one point this was available with Exchange, but Outlook couldn't handle it.... It couldn't switch servers on fail-over. Great planning, as always.

510.9.2011 20:19

any business or person that puts critical or personal data on the colud is just asking for trouble to save a few pennies.

Do you know how much a server costs? And on top of that: installation, maintenance, ERP software (SAP bare bones is about $100k and an additional $20-80k over months to a year for install depending on your modules). I understand we're talking about MS Office here, but let's not make broad statements about cloud computing which is a proven profit builder. Obviously these gains are fewer for smaller business, but lower IT expenses is the biggest draw to cloud computing and amounts to more than a "few pennies".

The true test of cloud computing will be in security because now your data is under a single point of vulnerability. Just because less experienced cloud services like Office 365 are dealing with reliability issues you cannot reason this to the entire industry. Major services such as, who have been around for several years, are extremely reliable.

611.9.2011 5:09

SalesForce is a prime example of what I am talking about. It is a great service, but if they are down you have no access, and unless they have changed things your data is locked into their program and you couldn't migrate to a new service if you wanted to. The biger you are and the bigger your database it the worse the problem is, you are locked into their service with "low monthly fees" that really aren't that low.

And yes, I do know what it costs to purchase and maintain a server, evaluating thise costs is a big part of my job, and I would never even consider SAP. I have worked with it at several companies, it pretty good software, but it is designed to give consultants the maximum billable time possible. The price of the software is generally the smallest part of the cost, consultants to customize it cost far more and it seems like the project never ends. It is constantly being changed and improved at enormous cost.

I have seen very few examples where it is beneficial in the long run for the company to oursource anything IT related, eith the exception of high level support for small companies. It is very difficult for small companies to retain high level IT people because they can't afford to keep up with the latest products and the IT staff tend to fall behind in their skills. I realize it is not pennies, but as a percentage of revenue, most companies spend less than pennies on the dollar for IT. That is a dangerous concept, but pushed by many "Management consultants".

In my opinion the inherant problems built into cloud computing are unacceptable, and short term profit is not worth long term viability risk. Too many companies don't exist today because they put short term profits over long term viability. How many PC manfacturers are dying because they have outsourced manufacturing, design and support? When you outsource you loose control, and you have to worry about far more problems. They can be the best company and have all kinds of gurantees but if they loose your data, it won't help you one bit and it can kill a company.

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