For the second time in five months, businesses reliant on Office 365 were unable to access their Outlook email inboxes for several hours yesterday. A configuration error took many Azure-based services offline, and prevented thousands of users from doing even the most basic Office 365 tasks, like sending and receiving email.
Starting at around 9A.M. in the morning, many Office 365 users across northern and western Europe encountered HTTP 500 (server time out) error messages when attempting to log into the system. The outage lasted well into the afternoon as Microsoft engineers battled to restore normal service. Full access was eventually restored for all users in the middle of the afternoon.
Organisations based in London were particularly badly affected, causing thousands of hours of lost productivity in what is typically one of the busiest periods in the business calendar.
Microsoft later announced that the outage was caused by a routine change to the Azure Active Directory service that underpins many of Microsoft’s hosted services.
Not just Microsoft Outlook 365
Microsoft’s hosted email problems have been very well publicised, but they are not the only provider to lose services for hours at a time. The Google Apps service, including Gmail for business, has also gone down at least once this year – and again, service users were unable to send, receive or access their archived messages for the duration.
Cloud services are popular with business precisely because they offer improved up-time over onsite email servers; even with these annoying outages, Microsoft and Google services will be more reliable than a similar service run by users themselves.
Email security is not just about security
Despite the superior reliability of hosted services, they are still incapable of achieving 100% up-time alone. Some reports suggest that as cloud services become more mature, downtime has actually increased – although 99.19% up-time is still pretty good by most IT manager’s standards.
But email downtime can be reduced to zero using the Emergency Email feature of the Radius Technologies BlockMail service.
Also hosted in the cloud, BlockMail maintains a copy of every email received over the previous 14 days by all of your users – minus any spam, malware or other unwanted email.
This means that should your actual email service go offline, employees still have access to messages using nothing more than their web browser. Even more importantly, emails can also be replied to, allowing you to maintain “business as usual” operations while you wait for your hosted mail provider to restore their services.
For more help and advice on maintaining total cloud email availability (and keeping user mailboxes free of spam), please contact us today.