Another Cloud Outage Strikes Microsoft BPOS, Exchange Online

Tuesday's outage knocked BPOS Exchange Online e-mail services out of commission for an unknown number of customers for more than two hours.

"On July 19th beginning at approximately 8:30 a.m. PDT, some BPOS customers in North America began experiencing intermittent access to e-mail," Microsoft said in a statement. "The issue was resolved at 10:45 a.m. PDT, and the service is now functioning normally. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this incident may have caused."

BPOS users said Tuesday's cloud outage also affected the Online Services Health Dashboard, a site where BPOS users can pinpoint issues. The dashboard, according to users, indicated that services were all available and did not indicate that a problem had occurred. The BPOS bust was similar to a service interruption BPOS suffered last month that also took down some BPOS services and the status dashboard.

According to the Microsoft Online Twitter feed, alerts of e-mail connectivity issues affecting Exchange Online in the Americas were under investigation around 2:45 p.m. EST. A short time later, Microsoft said service was restored and the services health status dashboard had been updated.

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Not having access to an updated services health dashboard during an e-mail outage left angry BPOS users wondering exactly what happened to the cloud services. And some BPOS users said the service had been down for two hours before Microsoft Online issued the alert via Twitter.

Users took to Microsoft Online user forums and said they were suffering send and receive issues in e-mail. Those same users said that the dashboard reflected that all services were operating correctly during the downtime, and it was updated two hours later to show there had been an issue.

"In their last e-mail regarding the June 22nd outage they promised that in the future, the dashboard would reflect more in 'real time,' So much for that promise," one BPOS user wrote.

BPOS, Microsoft's cloud messaging and collaboration services suite, combines Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Office Communications Online and Office Live Meeting.

The most recent BPOS outage comes less than a month after Microsoft launched Office 365, which will phase out BPOS to become Microsoft's de facto cloud application suite. According to Microsoft, Office 365 "should provide a more stable service."

Tuesday's Microsoft BPOS outage was the latest in a string of high profile cloud outages this year, a number of which had BPOS taking the fall.

Between May 10 and May 13, Microsoft BPOS suffered a string of cloud outages that caused lengthy cloud e-mail delays for BPOS users. Then, on May 19, Microsoft said its Exchange Online cloud e-mail service was hit with a software problem that caused intermittent e-mail delays for customers in the Americas.