back to article Microsoft BPOS cloud outage burns Exchange converts

Microsoft has served up another apology for the unreliability of its cloud after burning converts to its BPOS collaboration service by killing their email. Dave Thompson, corporate vice president for Microsoft's online services, has been telling customers who've gone "all in" on Microsoft's BPOS cloud that he's really "sorry …


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  1. Nick Ryan Silver badge


    E-mail... doesn't matter as long as MS Live, MS Mobile X and whatever else junk are part of MS Lync still work. Ish. Marketing tossers :(

    Saw an unrelated MS presentation the other day and *ALL* they ineffectively pushed was MS Live, MS Mobile and MS Lync and how the entire world will be a better place with them. No mention and utter glossing over about what end users and support staff might possibly want - i.e. reliability, accountability and good diagnostics for *when* things go wrong (*).

    (*) Because, to be fair, things always do go wrong (not just MS) but it's and damn sight easier when it's more transparent and the logs are present and comprehensible you stand a hope of figuring out the cause. Most problems are relatively simple to fix... as long as you can work out what the problem is.

  2. patjo

    Horribly Immature

    I participated in a 2200 seat groupwise to exchange online migration, starting last August and finishing up in January. The largest impediment to the migration was the unreliability of the service and the complete lack of communication within the organization itself. I would often be on the phone with level 1 support in excess of an hour troubleshooting connectivity issues before they would check with their peers and realize a larger outage was in progress. The hosted blackberry service is complete crap as well.

    Whomever came up with the acronym BPOS must have been giggling inside, because it truly is a BIG PIECE OF SHI# !!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    The wonders of scale

    Data corruption which is a perennial exchange problem is often ignored or overlooked in your usual corporate shop. Everyone loses an email once in a while, everyone is accustomed to it. Exchange servers are offline every few days for a few hours, and so on.

    Appalling from the point of view of the average unix geek who last lost email in 1996 or so because some moron enabled quotas in an mbox environment. Business as usual in Windows land.

    However, once you scale it and make it run 365x24 with no "a few hours lay down to fix it"... The gremlins really come out and play :)

    Nothing surprising here... Move along... You get whatever Christmas you deserve...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I beg to differ. Having seen exchange servers running in many places, including in a 5000+ user environment with a cluster of exchange servers I can only assume that the exchange boxes you were running on were admined by the same sort of moron that you complain about in your post.

      Would you agree that the main problem is incompetent administrators rather than windows?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The best systems...

        Don't require much competence to administer.

        1. Peter2 Silver badge

          Re: The best systems...

          Which is why we have botnets running on compromised servers with the admins in blissful ignorance.

          I mean, the server is running a bit slower but it's still working so it doesn't matter much, right?

    2. Steve Brooks


      Having a companies exchange server go down isn't usually a big problem, oh it may be BIG for them, but its not really a BIG problem, their IT guys just get to work overnight and weekend upaid to fix it. But this is the point, if you have a thousand companies, and ONE has an exchange outage big deal, but if you have a thousand companies and exchange goes down simultaneously for ALL of them, it DOES become a big deal.

  4. Anonymous Coward


    What servers? I thought everything was 'in the cloud'.

  5. Levente Szileszky

    Anyone willing to rely on Microsoft services needs to get his head examined... MS' has the industry's WORST track record: outage after outage, always some crazy system-wide downtime.

    They are trying to "meet their SLA" (euphemism (c) one MS employee) for YEARS now - MS BPOS is a disaster, period.

    Google had its own intermittent slowdowns, even outages but as far as I know they never managed to knock off their entire hosted stack especially worldwide a' la Microsoft BPOS.

    You get what you deserve if you stick with BPOS.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    running Exchange and not expecting outages?

    What planet are these people from? They do realized that Exchange runs on Windows, right?

    On the other hand, maybe the same folks who perpetrated the Sony hack got Microsoft too. Downloading the world's Exchange mailboxes would certainly make the system sluggish.

    Part of me hopes I'm right. The other part dreads being right.

    1. Jean-Luc
      Thumb Down

      @running Exchange and not expecting outages?

      Awww, shush.

      Windows is dodgy, but _competent_ admins ought to, and have in my experience been, able to keep basic email from glitching, even on Windows, at a company level. Of course, one shouldn't expect wonders from _hosted_ Microsoft, these are guys who were wisely running Hotmail on BSD. However, my experience with admins is that you get crappy ones sometimes, even on 'Nix.

      My big pbm with Outlook 2007 is that it feels dated compared to gmail from its go-live in 2007. I get nag messages @ 250 MB usage, constant "this attachment has changed" popups and searching outlook is like watching molasses flow. And don't get me started on Outlook 2007's web front end.

      These are basic email functions, along w. availability. Companies seem to be putting up w. Outlook because of its Meeting/Calendar functionality. Too bad, because I spend enough time avoiding being in meetings that I really don't care how easy it is to set them up.

      Hosted email @ MS? Fine, but as these fine user managers have discovered, let somebody else be the scout in Indian territory.

  7. Uwe Dippel

    Once a convert, always a convert ...

    I can't believe the gist of this story. The Microsofties that I met, and the Microsofties that we have in our organisation, will defend the Beast From Redmond until their death.

    When things go wrong in the colourful world of MS, and a new OS needs to be bought, these are the people who were happily shelling out the license fees for W2K, once their expenditure for ME was found to be wasted. They are even grateful and fork out the money with pleasure, thankful that Microsoft is willing to share The Most Advanced Operating System in this world with them. No kidding. And when I point out how Exchange is a dog to administrate, and that e-mail is no rocket science, and what they actually ought to do, is - almost nothing, because a mail server is supposed to 'just work', they'll tell me how thankful they are not to have to touch that dreadful *nix-command-line [I cite].

    And this rambling could go on and on. No, I don't believe the message. I rather read the postings as trying to appeal to the Big Brother not to hit one with 50 strokes of the cane, but rather with 10 only. "Be kind to me, pleeeezzze, and make my boss and my users happy. I luv u, I luv u, I luv u!"

    "Nobody has ever been fired for buying Microsoft" still holds water. Unfortunately. I can kind of understand the mindset of my colleagues sitting on MS products. You suffer like hell, but you have a secure job. No need to learn anything new. Qualification comes from a boot-camp.

    It is overall not too convenient, but also not too bad. The bit of maso is hidden in most of us, and if you can bring it out, it feeds the family.


    1. stizzleswick

      Strictly correct.

      As a long-time sysadmin myself, I once confronted a colleague working for an IT consultancy firm as to why he kept pushing MS products. His answer was, "that way, we get follow-up work by the boatload. If we'd push Linux or UNIX, we'd install, then never hear from the customer again."

      Go figure.

    2. Jean-Luc

      @Once a convert...

      >>these are the people who were happily shelling out the license fees for W2K, once their expenditure for ME was found to be wasted

      I was quite happy with my pirated work version W2K, after giving a buddies' gift ME a test drive. W2K mostly worked nicely and games like Quake even ran on it as well. ME was... the Vista before Vista. I have to wonder at corporations that upgraded their desktop users to ME.

      XP has, to date, IMHO, been the best Windows version in the context of its contemporary desktop competitors. Windows 7 is OK, but nothing so great compared to where OS X or Linux desktops are now. Though an improved KDE3 would by now have been a much better path than the 4x series, IMHO and would have allowed Linux to pull ahead.

  8. Mikel

    Good luck getting your data out

    Migrating to BPOS is a one-way trip.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Buy proofpoint on bpos

      and they will keep it safe for you in different data centres to microsofts.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Proofpoint is only available to people running BPOS-D (the dedicated versions). Most of us aren't big enough and don't have enough money to afford that kind of solution. If we did, we'd probably run Exchange in-house.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is news? :P

    I can tell you firsthand that the BPOS team is nice enough, but overwhelmed and woefully inexperienced with the services business. I'm in the middle of migrating a hell of a lot more seats into BPOS than the poor guy in the article (let's just say multiple environments that all qualify for BPOSD) and I feel like a damn babysitter explaining the basics of service management and delivery.

    Microsoft is a tech company and their approach to both selling and delivering BPOS is pretty much the same as selling MS Office - they have a long way to go before they really "get it"


    An Anonymous BPOS Reseller

    1. Goat Jam

      You say stuff like this

      yet you are still a MS BPOS reseller?

      Self respect much?

      No wonder you posted anon

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Goat Jam

        I might have some pull but trust me, I do not have the type of pull at my company to say "hey CEO, this is f'ing retarded" and have anyone listen, and it was our CEO's call, AFAIK, to hop in bed with Microsoft on BPOS.

        Anon because I prefer my comments not getting tracked back to me or my company (you know our name, I'll leave it at that), not because I'm ashamed that I was given this difficult job to do. Quite the contrary, if this were easy or simple there are plenty of muppets that work for us that could do it. I like a challenge and was pulled into this role because it's a mess. It's going to take a lot of hard work and maybe a miracle to ever make BPOS palatable to our clients, and as bad as they are, outages like this aren't the half of it.

        1. Goat Jam

          Words Mean Stuff

          OK, so you _work_for_ a MS BPOS reseller, as opposed to actually being one.

          In that case you have my sympathy, and I suggest that you get a job that doesn't require that you enable the rectal shafting of unsuspecting customers just so your boss can get richer.

          1. Anonymous Coward

            For the record

            ...the only reselling we do is when a client asks us to resell it. If there is a hard sell going on it's to manage them on-prem or in a traditional hosted offering - not provide this kludgey "wrapper" reseller service. Of course, I have been considering a move.

            Cheers to you too good sir :)

  10. raving angry loony

    admins vs management

    I'm guessing it wasn't the "admins" who convinced the company to move to a Microsoft cloud, but some management folks with only a vague grasp of IT and a vaguer grasp of accounting, but a lot of pull inside the company and even more susceptibility to Microsoft salespeople talk.

    They will, of course, put all the BLAME on the admins, as usual, but let's be accurate here.

    1. chr0m4t1c


      In my experience, it's rarely the admins that have the power to make these choices and they're often the ones saying "bad idea" as someone very high up starts cutting through the branch of the tree that everyone is sitting on.

  11. TKW

    The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

    "Thompson is right to prostate himself in front of his customers"

    Care to proof-read that??

  12. Anonymous Coward


    "Thompson is right to prostate himself in front of his customers..."

    I sincerely hope not...

  13. snwdoggy

    Google Blogger Outage? Why not compare BPOS to Google Apps Uptime?

    Microsoft BPOS uptime should be compared to Google Apps for Business uptime (not blogger which has no SLA or charge for customers). Google Apps had an uptime of 99.984% for 2010 with NO scheduled downtime.

  14. David 45


    MS subscribers would doubtless go for today's inspirational quote received today, coincidentally, via

    "To forgive is the highest, most beautiful form of love. In

    return, you will receive untold peace and happiness."

    So, now you know!

  15. Anonymous Coward

    How to improve the service

    MS - all you have to do is move all the corporate email to this system - including the CEO's.

    You will therefore benefit from

    1) early warning when things go wrong

    2) plentiful feedback on how to improve the service

    3) the best demonstration that there is of your confidence in the service

    The guys developing and running the service will also keep their feet toasty warm as they are held close to the fire.

  16. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Badly-formed email ?

    Where does that come from, I wonder ? I mean, the Internet is awash with all sorts of email and it manages just fine, so what particular form damages this cloud thingy so much that it falls on its face ?

    Could it be more of a "badly thought-out in-cloud process for load balancing" ?

    Most probably it will be put down to teething problems.

    Frankly, I cannot understand the CEOs that okayed this kind of thing, and I'm quite happy they got bitten so hard. Microsoft has a dismal record of hosting anything, and that this is proving no different is no surprise.

    Trust Microsoft products at your own peril, that is the lesson here.

  17. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    "...the obvious inconveniences these issues caused..."

    E-mail ... oh well, yes we take a look at it from time to time but it's not like we use it for sale, customer support , or management is it?

    Oh wait, that was 1980 - my bad.

    These days, if you take the email system off line you're not causing some inconvenience - you're cutting the company off at the knees - not only is everyone unable to communicate but there's a whole bunch of customers wondering why you're not replying to them and answering support questions and sale inquiries.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    and Microsoft shrugs

    cause who's software are ya gonna use to rebuild your infrastructure? Microsofts. And all the while they are causing people/businesses to feel that the cloud and services aren't ready for business use (which in many cases is probably true). With MS's deep pockets if that can't build a dependable backend (cloud) with there own software they aren't trying very hard. Do you wonder why?

  19. BongoJoe
    Thumb Down

    The Cloud - why?

    Explain to me again why the Cloud is such a good idea for security and stability.

  20. Jacqui

    thanks for all the fish.

    We apologise for the inconvenience.

    Come on reg - even you beer fuddled hacks must know exhange is not just email these days.

    Itsthe events and meetings calendar, room bookings, customer contact details and so on.

    When exchange is down a company usually stops being able to sell stuff and sometimes goes under because of it! Calling it an email outage us just PR spin - its more like a disaster recovery situation for your server farm then finding out your backup systems are non existent!

    Putting it bluntly, companies are already looking at the infrastructure of thier suppliers and when they see MS exhange email headers they tick the "more money than sense" box. I assume the BPOS box will now be labelled "attempted suicide" :-)

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    So, even Hotmail is more reliable huh?

  22. Christian Berger

    Considering Microsoft's track-record...

    Customers can be happy Microsoft didn't go ahead and close down the service before deleting it.

    After all it wouldn't be the first time they just discontinued an important program they previously advertised the future.

    Examples include "Recorder", the first automatisation solution for Windows which disappeared with Windows 95. Or Windows for Pen computing. Or VBX components. Or more current Internet Explorer 6 or that drive extension technology in WHS.

    1. mafoo
      Gates Horns

      One word:


  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So if email is THAT critical to you...

    ... why do you even consider outsourcing it?

    If it's that critical, run it in-house and run it on a stable platform. That means no touchy, redmond. It does mean understanding your mail platform in detail and if it's too complex you get a simpler one. That math really isn't that hard.

    In the same vein you might say it would be worth your while to learn how to use mail effectively. Even such simple things as discerning to, cc, and bcc, effective subject lines, understanding message-id and in-reply-to, sender and reply-to, effective writing... or something as simple as getting an email client that doesn't have a reply-to-all button prominently placed and ready for easy mis-clicking. But all that too seems to be Just Too Hard. No wonder people keep on making classic misteaks.

    It's amazing how undervalued email is right until it stops working. Then it's panic all over, until it starts working again, and people promptly forget the pain, nevermind learn any lesson. Well, suit yerselves then.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      "No wonder people keep on making classic misteaks."

      I hope that was deliberate.

  24. Anteaus

    Tell me about it...

    "Nobody has ever been fired for buying Microsoft" still holds water.

    We lost a couple of support contracts recently because I slated certain Microsoft products the client was intent-on buying as being unsuitable for their purpose. I hadn't appreciated that IT is a religion not a science, and that I had committed blasphemy in doing this.

    Both of these sites then called-in a competing IT contractor who transferred them from an inhouse SMTP/IMAP mailserver onto hosted Exchange.

    A member of staff confided that even before these latest events, one site has already had a five-day email outage which caused massive disruption. They (naturally) don't know how much business was lost as a result, but the money would probably have paid for traditional inhouse mailservers and support for a very long while.

    1. Sandtitz Silver badge


      Can you elaborate how Exchange was unsuitable and which was your proposed solution instead? I hope Notes wasn't the answer... :-)

      Once the companies' execs discover what else they could do with their Outlook software instead of the basic IO (SMTP+IMAP/POP) there's no looking back. Scheduling meetings, accessing other people's resources and such is nice and integrates well into Outlook and most mobile phones.

      If you really are after just IMAP/SMTP then a Linux based solution is probably the best answer.

      1. Anteaus

        Wrong end of..

        I didn't mention Exchange. In fact the unsuitable product was Dynamics.

        Though, I've lost count of the number of small sites I've encountered using SBS Exchange to supply three or five desktops with email. And, you often find they don't use the calendar etc, just email. This is just plain silly. It's even more ludicrous when the three accounts' email is fetched from three POP boxes into Exchange, and then delivered to Outlook via Active Directory auth.

        But, it's not planned like that by IT guys, managers ask for Exchange because it's a 'buzzword.' These days I've learned that if people want to throw money away on stuff whose name sounds good but which they don't need, I'm as well to play along. There is after all an argument that the more costly the software, the more you can get-away with charging to install it. <g>

  25. Christian Berger

    Maybe that was part of a larger plan

    Just think about it. Who is the biggest looser of cloud strategies? Microsoft. If that cloud solution would have worked, they would have probably slowly migrated to cheaper desktop platforms. They might have gained a small bit of monthly income, but lost a big lump of bi-annual income coming from new OS licenses, as well as a firm grip on part of the market.

    However investors demand from Microsoft that they also stay "competitive" by also providing cloud services. So the best thing they can do is to deliberately make it fail, and blame that on the cloud concept itself. Microsoft has always been good at imposing their world view into the rest of the world. Just look how many people believe code signing is a security feature.

  26. Jay 12

    if you....

    Broken record time. Your infrastructure is only as good as the planning you put in. My main schtick is MS (no bootcamps) and in my experience any system correctly scoped, planned and configured will work very nicely. Sure unix based things do work better but the sad state of affairs is that a lot of companies IT support consist of point and click jockeys. Partly because a lot of people have more to do in life than read books when they can get by with clicking next and google, but partly because the trend in IT is quicker, more with less involvement and understanding.

    If you wanna stick your business critical bits and bobs in the fluffy outside (we heart the cloud eh) then if it goes to custard point the finger at them but you are still down for as long as it takes and christ I bet its more complex than an in-house build. If you want to keep control then invest in training, planning and trust the people you employ. You (hopefully) won't regret it.

  27. Anonymous Coward

    are these people a bit thick?

    seriously. take an in-house mission critical (sorry, bt email is these days) and then basically

    out-source/off-site it all to some other company...and then be surprised when you have

    unplanned outages? outrageous indeed. in fact, bloody obvious.

    you really need to keep these things in-house - even if its for one simple reason - you are effectively making your internet connection indispensable. cant afford 1 minute of that being away either - keep the stuff on simple server architecture....some nice VMware for multiple hosts per system with vmotion to move them around your building/campus - but migrating your email, CRM, and systems that give you the competitive advantage to the outside hosted world? suicide. for the business (eventually) but also for yourself - as the article states, the CEO and senior mgmt 'dont get it' - the IT system fails, its the IT fault..not Google, or MS or anyone - those guys are massive, 'they must know what they are doing' :-(

  28. Anonymous Coward

    economies of scale

    I think you will find that the total cost savings are not that great either - you would expect far more for the money at the Amazon, Microsoft scale for example - but you really don't - they just take it all as margin.

    *Only* reason I can think of using the cloud if you have tiny requirements < 1 full time colo or 'managed' server or alternatively if you need excess capacity for a limited time.

  29. Fatman

    Microsoft BPOS cloud outage


    `Admins who made the case inside their companies for jumping on BPOS now find themselves having a lot of explaining to do to their bosses, or are actively looking for a way off Microsoft's cloud. Or both.`

    Is missing this:

    `Or a NEW job!!`

    Give that genius a SKITA!! (Swift Kick In The Ass)

  30. Pat 4

    I knew it...

    My company decided to move to BPOS shortly before hiring me as a systems administrator. When I learned about it... I was obviously against to move, afraid of the loss of control, info and usual Microsoft treatment. But I was new... didn't have much say against the CIO.

    This is one of those cases where I hate having been this right...

    Given Microsoft's track record, I have no idea why anyone would even consider handing them control of one of the most important piece of business communication... makes no sense.

    But like I always say, Microsoft in not a software company... they are a marketing company... and at that nobody is as good as them.

  31. Anonymous Coward

    War is Heck

    "In this war there's no room for prisoners or mistakes..."

    So, you IT folks should be willing to take a bullet for Team Microsoft.

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