Senior Microsoft exec apologizes for Office 365 outages

A senior Microsoft official has apologized for last week’s two-day service outages of its Lync Online and Exchange Online services.

“First, I want to apologize on behalf of the Office 365 team for the impact and inconvenience this has caused,” Rajesjh Jha, corporate vice-president for Office 365 Engineering, said in the statement on the Office 365 forum site. “Email and real-time communications are critical to your business, and my team and I fully recognize our accountability and responsibility as your partner and service provider.”

Last Monday a service issue occurred in the Lync Online service preventing a unnamed number of subscribers for logging in, he wrote. That caused a brief loss of connectivity in Microsoft’s North American data centres due to external network failures.

The next day an unrelated Exchange Online issue that resulted in “prolonged email delays” for some customers in mail going out and coming in to enterprises. “For a small subset of customers” email couldn’t be accessed. “Unfortunately, the nature of this failure led to an unexpected issue in the broader mail delivery system due to a previously unknown code flaw leading to mail flow delays for a larger set of customers.”

At the same time there was a problem with Microsoft’s Service Health Dashboard published process, he added, which meant that not all affected customers were quickly notified.

Jha promised subscribers that a detailed post-incident report on both incidents will be posted to the health dashboard with a detailed analysis of what happened and how Microsoft will prevent it from happening again.

More than one Web site has suggested this is a black eye for cloud computing, which is supposed to enhance service by having a vendor take full responsibility for reliablity, scalability and security.

CIOs have to take notice that even a cloud service will have sudden outages for even mission-critical communications applications. They will have to hope at least these will be fewer than an on-premise solution.

Separately, Microsoft told IT security professionals that starting tomorrow it will stop sending them email security even notifications for security bulletins and advance notifications. Instead they will come through security RSS feeds.

A number of people are wondering if the timing is a coincidence: July 1 is when the Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL) comes into effect. Perhaps with the large number of people who had to give permission to receive email on the Microsoft security list, the company decided it wasn’t worth the administration trouble.


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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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