Last night millions of Microsoft Office 365 may have woken up to a systems error according to technology analysts. Millions of users were left unable to access Office 365 because of a major service failure according to the BBC. Microsoft was still analysing the cause of the problem this morning, but said it appeared to be related to the internet's DNS address system. Such a major problem is likely to raise questions about the reliability of Microsoft Office 365 and their Public cloud computing offering, the company's alternative to Google's suite of online apps. Its service also went offline briefly in mid-August, less than two months after it launched.
Microsoft is not alone in suffering problems with its cloud-based applications. Google Docs was unavailable for a period on Wednesday. However, the fact that Microsoft's Office 365 is a paid-for service, with users charged £4 per month, may raise expectations of a more robust setup.
Moving applications from installed software on individual computers, to web-based "software as a service" has been a major trend in computing in recent years. Such systems are seen as easier to manage, simpler to scale-up and down, and potentially offering more robust security. Among them have been several failures of Amazon's EC2 - the company's remote computing service, which allows businesses to hire additional processing power and storage on demand. The system failed in April 2011, impacting several large websites, including Foursquare and Reddit. Another period of down time in August brought down many of the same websites.
Cloud computing analyst and Commensus Chief Technical Officer Alex Parker commented, “Microsoft’s data centre outage highlights the growing need for companies to check what type of Cloud they’re based on. Big providers may not necessarily deploy the most robust infrastructure.” Parker continued, “…companies like Commensus help deploy one of the most secure and resilient solutions in the market guaranteeing uptime. Data is geographically replicated across multiple data centres to protect against a full data centre outage”