Microsoft has created an Online Service Health Dashboard, which will give users of its Microsoft-hosted services information on the status and status history of the various Business Productivity Online (BPOS) services.
The rollout of the new Dashboard comes on the heels of three outages experienced by a number of Microsoft Online Services users in North America. Microsoft has been notifying BPOS users of the status of their services via an RSS feed, but a number of users with whom I've communicated in the past few weeks don't seem to know that such a feed exists.
Microsoft officials announced the availability of the new dashboard, with three different URLs for different Microsoft datacenter locations, via a blog post to the Microsoft Online Services Team blog on September 27.
The Dashboard provides the status of the current day and week for all BPOS services -- which currently means Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Communications Online and Live Meeting. There also is a historical status view, which displays the "greatest level of service degradation for the given day," according to the blog post.
Here's a shot of the initial dashboard screen from Microsoft:
(click on the dashboard screenshot to enlarge)
Microsoft is delivering new BPOS-related features on a regular basis, and is promising a bigger "vNext" rollout in the first part of next year. Microsoft officials have said they'll make test versions of vNext services available to users in calendar 2010. The vNext versions of these services will include some of the functionality that Microsoft introduced in the software versions of the respective point products that it shipped in the past year-plus.
Microsoft is expected to rebrand BPOS as "Union" at some point in the not-too-distant future. I'm wondering whether the Union family will be condensed to include Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and Lync Online (the new name for Communications Online) only, as much of the Live Meeting functionality seems to be moving into Lync. I asked Microsoft but was told the company had nothing to share on that front at this time.
Beyond Union/vNext, Microsoft has plans to further unify its Online Services suite by more tightly integrating its CRM Online offering with the rest of BPOS and making certain ERP elements available as hosted services, officials said recently.
I also recently asked Microsoft Business Solutions Corporate Vice President Michael Park whether Microsoft had decided to shelve the "BPOS Lite" product I wrote about earlier this year. Park said that BPOS Lite is still going forward, but said it was too early to talk further about specifics.