Office 365 Outages are real – here's what you need to know

Paul Vallely

Fail me once, shame on you. Fail me twice, shame on me. Fail me up to four times in three months, and it’s time to invest in an email continuity solution. There’s no way to sugar-coat this: Office 365 has suffered failures. On December 3, the service went out in Europe for around four hours, affecting more than a third of Outlook on the Web requests, and many Office 365 users. It went down again a couple of weeks later, with hundreds of customers across Europe left frustrated when they couldn’t log in. On January 18, a botched update caused an IMAP-based outage that stopped people accessing emails using Exchange Online via IMAP. Engineers from the company took at least seven days to eventually fix the problem. Then, in February, European customers were frustrated yet again when they found themselves unable to log in to the service via the Office 365 front-end portal. Some complained of a two-week outage.

The cost of email downtime

cost of downtimeHow much did all of that email downtime cost those businesses? It’s difficult to quantify it, because it will have affected different numbers of users, of different types, in companies from different industries that rely on email to varying degrees. We know one thing, though: the cost shows up in various ways, and often indirectly. The damage can hit customer-facing processes, and can harm relationships – or simply stop them from developing altogether. Important emails from potential customers can be lost, and they may not try a second time. Customers may try to contact you and their support queries may never be answered. Email outages can also impact internal functions, choking off communications between employees and restricting the flow of important information. Need something for an urgent deadline later that day? By the time you realise that the person you need it from really didn’t get the memo, it may be too late. People will invariably resort to the phones once they realise that their mail service is unavailable, but that creates problems of its own. People aren’t always around to take calls. When they are around, the calls increase the time overhead by a factor of three or more. For managers, the whole thing becomes a nightmare, because suddenly, nothing is in writing. That makes accountability almost impossible, and creates havoc from a compliance and governance perspective.

Time for continuity

call for backupYou don’t need to switch systems altogether to avoid the lost sales, missed opportunities and productivity drains that stem from Office 365 email outages. It would be a shame to do that, because Microsoft’s online productivity suite is great to use when it’s operational. In any case, moving to another sole cloud provider may land you with similar availability issues. The answer is simply to avoid a single point of failure. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. By using a backup email support system, you can protect your email if and when Microsoft’s service fails again.

The MAX Mail solution handles your email first, and holds copies of it before passing it onto Office 365. If Office 365 goes down, customers can still read and send email using its online service, enabling their business to run smoothly and effectively until their Microsoft service is restored.

It’s reassuring to know that no matter what befalls your primary cloud email provider, another complementary cloud email service will always have your back.