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Microsoft Online Services – Online is not always Online

As a software engineer for a small Microsoft Partner – I have had a blast working with the enterprise technologies – especially since the release of the beta bits of MOSS 2007.

The firm I work for is also a Microsoft Hosted Services Partner, and we host key technologies like Exchange, MOSS, Dynamics CRM, SQL Server and the latest craze – the Business Productivity Suite. The following is a blurb from the MSFT Help About BPS Online:

The Business Productivity Online Standard Suite is a set of Microsoft hosted messaging and collaboration solutions including Microsoft Exchange Online, Microsoft SharePoint Online, Microsoft Office Live Meeting, and Microsoft Office Communications Online.

As a services corporation – I will be the first to tell you – this is an excellent offering, and I consider it a Flagship of online hosted services from the software giant.

HOWEVER… You have to love that part – HOWEVER…

I had the recent opportunity to experience the Microsoft flavor of this service – versus a partner’s similar offering of the hosted services.

Microsoft has scheduled maintenance programs – ones that literally take your Business Productivity Suite Standard hosting OFFLINE for 3+ hours – on a Friday evening. I found this not a little fascinating.

The clients that we (our company) provides hosted services to – well, a 3 hour window of maintenance downtime would pretty much run off the lion’s share of our business.

A lesson learned – not all things Online – are Online.

As you consider the suite of Microsoft Online (keyword, Online) hosted services – keep in mind – you are subject to that same unexpected downtime. I’m a bit perplexed that they do not shift services to one server farm or another during any maintenance plans. They did not – they literally took the online services OFFLINE for 3+ hours on a busy Friday night.

So… as you consider hosting options and hosting providers – keep in mind – even the biggest – is not the best.

Posted on Sunday, June 21, 2009 12:09 AM | Back to top


Comments on this post: Microsoft Online Services – Online is not always Online

# re: Microsoft Online Services – Online is not always Online
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Mike, I am a little surprised. Did your customer actually experience 3 hours of downtime. MS guarantees 99.9% uptime. We use and sell BPOS and have not experienced your description above.

Here is a brief except from SLA:
Business-class Security & Reliability
• Microsoft Online Services run on a global network of world-class data centers
• Our datacenters and services are protected by multiple layers of security and operational best practices
• Microsoft Online Services guarantee a service level agreement of 99.9% uptime
• Managed by rigorously screened and highly trained staff

Thanks for the post!
Left by Diane on Jun 22, 2009 11:56 AM

# re: Microsoft Online Services – Online is not always Online
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No way it's 99.9. One of my clients has only been a customer for a few months and they certainly experienced several outages.

BTW- Where can you find out about the outages in the MS BPOS Admin panel? Oh, that's right you can't as there is no history just green checks that never change.
Left by DL Wilcox on Jul 01, 2009 2:49 PM

# re: Microsoft Online Services – Online is not always Online
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Mike...I agree with Diane. I am working with Dallas based ishir Infotech, a Microsoft Gold Partner and we are selling and providing administration support for Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite. We have never faced any such issues as you have mentioned. Microsoft BPOS is still Secure & Reliable. You know any one can sign up for 30 days Free trial, with no obligations. There uptime is good and committed.
Left by Microsoft-Online-Service on Sep 23, 2009 8:09 AM

# re: Microsoft Online Services – Online is not always Online
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I've worked with Microsoft Online Services for over a year now and have not experienced this type of "scheduled" outage on a Friday evening. I would be interested in getting more details.

You state had a busy Friday night where your the service was scheduled for a 3 hour outage.

Which service(s)? Email? SharePoint Online? Instant messaging with OCS Online? Live Meeting?

What Friday was the scheduled outage?

Where was your customer located?

More details of your experience would be greatly appreciated.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I don't work for Microsoft, but I do work for a Microsoft Gold partner. I'm told we've helped customers deploy BPOS in more opportunities than any other partner. I have had one customer with an outage that was quicly traced by Microsoft to a connectivity problem with their ISP.
Left by Dean Murray on Oct 20, 2009 11:41 AM

# re: Microsoft Online Services – Online is not always Online
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Business-class Security & Reliability
• Microsoft Online Services run on a global network of world-class data centers
• Our datacenters and services are protected by multiple layers of security and operational best practices
• Microsoft Online Services guarantee a service level agreement of 99.9% uptime
• Managed by rigorously screened and highly trained staff
yes
Left by motorola ht820 bluetooth headset on Nov 29, 2009 11:16 PM

# re: Microsoft Online Services – Online is not always Online
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0
BPOS is out again as of 02:55 AM PDT 05/08/2010. I was working on some stuff at work, when I noticed my iPhone refusing certificates, I didn't think anything of it, until I could not login into the Admin Center, the checked webmail and it was down as well. It is now approaching 4 AM PDT, and I am told they think it has something to do with Proxy Servers, but the whole North American Data Center is out, and the Tier 1 rep said she couldn't even log into it. I'm more upset that they can't give me a reason we are down or even a possible ETA. This is affecting my whole company and we have offices in Europe to Left Coast!
Left by Zack on May 08, 2010 5:59 AM

# re: Microsoft Online Services – Online is not always Online
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How can we check the SLA for BPOS, when it was down?

Can we use MS System Center Operations Manager for monitoring the SLA for BPOS services?
Left by Kamal on May 24, 2010 7:22 AM

# re: Microsoft Online Services – Online is not always Online
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Don't think of Microsoft as "big" it is made up of hundreds of small teams who are mostly overworked and demoralised by endless bureaucracy. Relying on Microsoft for online services is an experience I wouldn't want to repeat. Also they have a habit of dropping products and changing their minds very quickly. Plus they have a very aggressive attitude towards their customers ... once bitten twice shy.
Left by Jack on Jun 07, 2010 3:57 PM

# re: Microsoft Online Services – Online is not always Online
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I'm staying very anonymous here due to partnership issues, and i'm thinking this blog probably doesn't get 10,000 hits a day.

I'm really suprised to see the comments from readers at the top. Then i clicked on their links and its clear they are all selling BPOS.

Every service (including BPOS) has planned and unplanned outages. To pretend that MSFT never has an outage is foolish. Buy MSFT BPOS because it saves you money and you don't need the best email solution out there. Don't buy it because you think you're going to save a bunch of money AND have the very best email solution.

C'mon people!

If you want to track BPOS outages, subscribe to this RSS feed.
https://rss.microsoftonline.com/feeds.aspx?center=default&chan=notifications&lang=en-us

Good luck!
Left by Anonymous on Jun 17, 2010 3:20 PM

# re: Microsoft Online Services – Online is not always Online
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Just signed up for 30 day trial of Business Productivity Online Standard Suite - in the Administration Center - Actions - Add new user - HANG.................?????

Been 30 min - More HANG.....is this because I'm not paying yet?
Left by Matteus on Jun 22, 2010 9:20 PM

# re: Microsoft Online Services – Online is not always Online
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Microsoft can suck my balls. They're always pissing me off...
Left by Grr... on Aug 19, 2010 3:44 PM

# re: Microsoft Online Services – Online is not always Online
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MS does have an 99.9% SLA for availability OUTSIDE OF SCHEDULED MAINTENANCE WINDOWS. So long as Microsoft schedules the downtime in advance, or as an emergency window, it does NOT count against the SLA.

A 99.9% SLA does NOT equal 99.9% uptime with the MS Online services.
Left by Allen on Aug 26, 2010 12:01 AM

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# re: Microsoft Online Services – Online is not always Online
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# re: Microsoft Online Services – Online is not always Online
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# re: Microsoft Online Services – Online is not always Online
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# re: Microsoft Online Services – Online is not always Online
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Just signed up for 30 day trial of Business Productivity Online Standard Suite - in the Administration Center - Actions - Add new us
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# re: Microsoft Online Services – Online is not always Online
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