Reports began surfacing about a new Microsoft cloud outage on June 22 -- less than a week before the company is slated to turn on its Office 365 hosted service platform.
Users of Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) -- its Google Apps competitor that will be superseded by Office 365 -- are having e-mail issues. They're also reporting that they cannot tell what is going on, as the Health Dashboard they rely on for updates also is not working.
The problem seems to be affecting users all across North America, based on postings to the support forum.
I've asked Microsoft for an update on the situation and received this note back from a spokesperson at 12:20 PM ET:
“About an hour ago, some customers began experiencing intermittent issues connecting to services served from the North American data center, including access to the Service Health Dashboard. We are actively working to restore service and identify the issue. We will provide an update within 30 minutes. We sincerely apologize to our customers for any inconvenience this may cause them.”
On the @MSOnline Twitter account, this update went live just after noon ET today:
User "Tom.Pro" noted in the TechNet Online Services support forum that "We('re) down to(o) in Calif. OWA (Outlook Web Access) is very very slow to respond. Sign On tool fails. I talked to BPOS support and he couldn't even generate a support ticket because that system was down also. THIS LOOKS VERY VERY SERIOUS."
Another BPOS customer who asked not to be identified told me that his organization is experiencing problems with Exchange Online, one of the main BPOS components.
"In order to use Outlook, we have to use a connector program called the Microsoft Online Services Single Sign In that links Outlook clients to the cloud," he explained. "Currently some users cannot sign in to it. If they signed in first thing this morning, they’re fine. I’ve warned them all not to reboot!"
Another user, identified as "mcitpadmin" said in the forum that "BPOS support confirmed they are seeing a connectivity issue with outlook and SSO (single sign-on)."
Microsoft BPOS users were hit by a multi-day e-mail outage in May.
Microsoft is planning to launch Office 365 on June 28. CEO Steve Ballmer will be in New York to do the honors. Microsoft is expected to make Office 365 generally available on that date, though migrations of current BPOS users to the new platform will likely take months.
Office 365 is a bundle of Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and Lync unified communications Online. Microsoft. Microsoft also is offering Office 365 customers the option to "rent" Office 2010 (the Professional Plus SKU) and pay for it on a subscription basis as part of the Office 365 package.
Update: At 12:30 p.m. ET, the @msonline Twitter account posted another update, saying the problem source had been discovered and was on the way to being fixed.
Another Update: At 1:30 p.m. ET, @msonline began advising users of a workaround for Outlook Web Access, noting Single Sign-on was still down: