Microsoft BPOS users reporting e-mail delays (again)

Microsoft BPOS users reporting e-mail delays (again)

Summary: A week after being hit hard by serious cloud e-mail problems, a number of Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Services (BPOS) users are reporting on May 19 that they're experiencing e-mail delays of up to an hour or more.

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A week after being hit hard by serious cloud e-mail problems, a number of Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Services (BPOS) users are reporting on May 19 that they're experiencing e-mail delays of up to an hour or more.

Microsoft is acknowledging the problem. A spokesperson sent me the following update when I asked about today's issues:

“Microsoft is investigating reports of intermittent mail flow issues affecting Exchange Online users served from the Americas data center. We are publishing information to customers via our normal communication channels. We apologize for any inconvenience this causes our customers.”

(I'll update this information once Microsoft comes back to me with more.)

Update (4 pm ET on May 19): Reader @PatrickE34 sent the following update he received from Microsoft this afternoon: "BPOS update 3:56pm - Some messages are still queued on Transport Srvs but all new inbound/outbound are delivering "as expected."

Today's problem seems less sweeping and severe than last week's series of Exchange Online issues. In the Online Services forum on Microsoft's Web site, users have been reporting delays of anywhere from 15 minutes to over an hour today in sending/receiving mail that is hosted by Microsoft via Exchange Online, one of the main components of Microsoft's cloud-hosted suite of business apps that competes with Google Apps.

The latest e-mail problems come after a three-plus-day e-mail disruption the week of May 9 that hit BPOS users in all geographies. A number of those affected with whom I spoke were angriest about Microsoft's failure to communicate in a timely fashion last week about what was going on with Exchange Online. Microsoft posted a detailed explanation and apology at the end of the third day of problems, and attributed the meltdown, in part, to "malformed e-mail traffic."

Earlier this week, on May 17, Microsoft Corporate Vice President of Online Services Dave Thompson, provided some additional answers to BPOS users' questions about last week's hosted e-mail outage. Thompason acknowledged that Microsoft was aware that it had "not been timely enough with information," but that it "can be difficult to trade off timeliness against certainty and accuracy."

He also said that Microsoft would not -- as a number of BPOS users had requested -- be make the health-dashboard information on BPOS publicly available and would keep it password protected. Thompson said Microsoft is working on an updated customer-specific dashboard that will be available in six to eight weeks, and like the current dashboard would be available only to BPOS users and administrators.

Thompson added that Microsoft is adding more customer support lines to alleviate the switchboard overload that hit BPOS support last week. "But a better fix is to release more and timely information on the dashboard," he noted. Additionally, "to enable faster recovery time from backlogged message queues, we have already added and continue to add more hub server capacity and have deployed a software update to all datacenters to improve how BPOS handles malformed email messages."

Microsoft is expected to launch BPOS's successor, Office 365, early this summer, possibly in early June. A number of users with whom I've spoken said they believe Microsoft needs to prove that Office 365 is more reliable than BPOS in order to keep existing customers and attract new ones.

Update No. 2 (7:50 pm. ET on May 19): Microsoft says today's Exchange Online issue has been fully resolved. The statement from a BPOS spokesperson:

“On May 19, 2011,  beginning at 8:48 am PDT, some customers served from the Americas region began experiencing e-mail delays. Fewer than 1% of users were affected.  Mail flow returned to normal by 11:00 am PDT, however, a small percentage of emails remained queued on a server. The issue was fully resolved at 3:33 pm Pacific, with all message queues cleared. The service is now functioning normally. During the duration of the issue, customers were updated regularly via our normal communication channels. We sincerely apologize to our customers for any inconvenience this incident may have caused them.”

Topics: CXO, Collaboration, Microsoft

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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15 comments
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  • I wonder if that's what causing the issue

    prepping the one to be released in the near future is having effects on BPOS?
    John Zern
    • RE: Microsoft BPOS users reporting e-mail delays (again)

      @John Zern - No. BPOS and Office 365 are running on different infrastructure.
      bitcrazed
      • RE: Microsoft BPOS users reporting e-mail delays (again)

        "3:33 PM - The BPOS Operations team has resolved the problem affecting Exchange Online mail flow for customers served from this region. All mail queues are fully drained and all mail flow has returned to normal. The team will provide a full post mortem of this incident available through Microsoft Support."
        bitcrazed
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  • RE: Microsoft BPOS users reporting e-mail delays (again)

    Just got off the phone with MS Online support (5/19/2011 @ 12:40pm PST) - nothing to add above the currently posted status on the BPOS status page.

    While not the end of the world, it's certainly not good for this to be happening for the second week in a row.

    SINCERELY hope Microsoft offer a decent compensation to our clients for this repeated service interruption.
    bitcrazed
    • Like a free XBox360?

      @bitcrazed

      Kidding... :)
      John Zern
      • RE: Microsoft BPOS users reporting e-mail delays (again)

        @John Zern - ROFL! Not sure that would appease my clients, one of who is right in the middle of migrating to BPOS ... or was!
        bitcrazed
      • RE: Microsoft BPOS users reporting e-mail delays (again)

        @John Zern
        Or a free Windows phone 7. That would go very well.
        Ram U
      • RE: Microsoft BPOS users reporting e-mail delays (again)

        @Rama.NET: Frankly, I'd find a WinPhone more useful - but as I already own one (and absolutely love it), not sure what I'd do with another.

        Suggestions on a post-card to ... ;)
        bitcrazed
  • BPOS is good, but Office 365 is much, much better.

    Whatever you do, please do not think of Office 365 as a new version of BPOS. It is a completely different platform designed for multi-tenancy. BPOS was a short term solution past it's due date. Not bad, but not nearly as good as Office 365.
    dricewi
    • RE: Microsoft BPOS users reporting e-mail delays (again)

      @dricewi - agreed. When BPOS works, it's great, but when something goes wrong, it's fragility clearly delays swift fixes.

      Office365, on the other hand, is an infrastructure I'm happy enough to bet the farm on that we've already migrated :) Now, if they can resolve the current LyncOnline issues, it'll be golden! ;)
      bitcrazed
      • RE: Microsoft BPOS users reporting e-mail delays (again)

        @bitcrazed
        oh, oh.....what lync online problems are you referring to? We've been satisfied (I wouldn't say happy) with OCS online and were planning on moving over to Lync online asap....
        bentstring
  • Recent outages killed our planned migration

    I was in the midst of trialing BPOS for a previously planned migration to it when I got to experience the outage from the 9th. Once our CEO got wind of that, he killed the project. He had some reservations about having our corp. email data at another provider and not onsite but the outage(s) killed any chance of continuing with the migration.
    joetron2030
  • RE: Microsoft BPOS users reporting e-mail delays (again)

    Damn friggin "cloudy weather" causing delays...

    AGAIN.
    tang1@...
  • RE: Microsoft BPOS users reporting e-mail delays (again)

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