User complaints began rolling in today that Microsoft's cloud, BPOS, was down with users unable to sign in to the service. Plus, as part of the outage, the BPOS Health Dashboard was also down, leaving IT administrators completely in the dark. Microsoft confirmed the outage via its msonline Twitter account.
At about 9 a.m. Pacific time, the company said on Twitter, "Microsoft Online Network connectivity issue for some in North America this morning. Working to restore service. Update within 30 min. #BPOS"
About an hour later, msonline informed BPOS users: "Source of network issue identified and hardware components replaced. Next update within 30 mins. #BPOS"
The next hour, Microsoft Tweeted, "Services returning to health. Sign In app and Health Dashboard still showing intermittent access errors. Next update within 30 mins."
Microsoft had informed users that they should be able to access their hosted Exchange mailboxes via the Online Web Access (OWA) browser client. However, during the time of the outage, some users posting on Microsoft's TechNet help forums said they couldn't get to BPOS via OWA either. Some reported that OWA was accessible, just extremely slow.
Users on the forum were also complaining that BPOS outages seem to be frequent. Writes Beverley Seche, "I contacted them and they told me they are experiencing sign on issue, i told them you not only experiencing that you also experiencing webaccess issue.. I'm very disspointed in bpos this is the 4 down in 2 months and this is supposed to be reliable. We went from in house groupwise to hosted Microsoft bpos not only we're getting culture shock we're getting down time.. :("
Seche also notes, in response to Microsoft's Tweet that the problem had been identified as a hardware problem, "But a hardware failure? Isn't the point of having a cluster environment is to avoid going down due to a hardware failure?"
Ironically, Microsoft is scheduled to release its next-generation to BPOS, Office 365 sometime this month -- some had reported that it was to launch today, on June 22. Reviewers and beta testers of the new cloud service have complained that Office 365 isn't ready for prime time, with too many features still buggy or in beta mode.
Nevertheless, the msonline Twitter account told BPOS users not to worry. Will Prat, who describes himself on Twitter as a "Grizzled IT Professional", asked msonline via Twitter, "Is there any reason to believe that @Office365 will be more reliable than #BPOS has been lately?"
To which Microsoft's msonline responded, "@wprat Yes, O365 should provide a more stable service. It is built from ground up new and reports and expectations are very good. ^MH"
The happy ending is that, a few minutes ago, Microsoft tweeted that BPOS is back up again, including the Health Dashboard -- which only seems capable of reporting good health since it goes down when the rest of the site does.