A recent Microsoft outage left hundreds of customers offline for more than 17 hours. The event is another stark reminder of the importance of business continuity, no matter what business you’re in. The problems started on Tuesday and disrupted access to Office 365, Skype, Xbox Live and other online services for more than one day.
Users either couldn’t log in to their favourite services or could not access the pages. Many took to social networks to vent their frustrations over the issue:
So is @Microsoft getting hacked? Hotmail, Outlook, OneDrive, Skype, Xbox seems to be down for most people globally?
— SetToDestroyX ???????? (@SetToDestroyX) March 21, 2017
Manchester, UK, I cannot login to Outlook!! I cannot access onedrive and OneNote! Very serious issue!! Outlook is down #Outlook #hotmail
— Bobby Ufot-Ekpo (@Unylogic) March 21, 2017
Updated @MScloud #services have dived offline, taking down @Outlook @hotmail @onedrive @Skype @Xbox #Live pic.twitter.com/cmeCxvFCTw
— eincop (@eincop) March 22, 2017
The outage kept services down for hours, Microsoft engineers restored access, and only minor residual issues remained on Wednesday. “We’re deploying a fix to restore service. Users should begin to experience service restoration as the fix is rolled out,” wrote Microsoft on the Office 365 service health page.
The outage comes only weeks after Amazon AWS, another major cloud provider had its systems taken down by an engineering error.
When Online Services Go Down, So Does Your Business
On an individual level, having online services disrupted for one day is not a major issue. In fact, it doesn’t seem like anything other than a first world problem (anyone like to Instagram their food?). However, the incident affected communication tools that are a vital service in many businesses around the world. The latest Microsoft estimates mention Office 365 has over 60 million users.
The market for cloud applications has grown to include hundreds of thousands of business. It is only natural that any disruption should be cause for concern. Companies that leverage cloud technologies such as Amazon or Microsoft are behemoths with longstanding tradition in software development. Their SLA’s will make sure services are up 99.99% of the time and they do have the ability to recover from disasters.
The event is a reminder, however, that even systems built by Bill can fail sometimes. And that when they go down, an entire business ecosystem goes down with them.
In times of the Roman Empire, as a general came back victorious from a battle, he received compliments and honours from the crowd during a parade. But he ran the risk of falling victim to delusions of grandeur. To avoid it, a slave stationed behind him would repeat a mantra to remind him that he is a mere mortal. “Respice post te. Hominem te memento” ( “Look after you [to the time after your death] and remember you’re [only] a man.”), or so it goes.
Businesses Need an Alternative to Fall Back On
The story should be known to anyone running a business today. Having a fail-safe backup system to rely on is critical. You can do this either by making sure on-premises systems are available to take over if the cloud is down, or making sure you don’t put all your eggs in one basket with one cloud provider. Managed service providers can work with their clients to make sure business continuity plans work.
And if they haven’t already, business owners need to take the time and ask themselves:
“How much money would I lose if my business was down for 17 hours?”
Office 365 Outage: One More Reason to Back Up
If you’re wondering a backup of your Office 365 data can help, we covered this subject in detail before.
Microsoft’s productivity software does have basic recovery features that allow you to bring back lost or deleted data. However, it is not built with backup and recovery in mind. Users may permanently delete data by mistake or on purpose, or may gain unauthorised access to data and then delete it.
You never want to find yourself in such situations. But if you are, you can get some peace of mind by backing up with a second provider: StorageCraft Cloud Backup.