Microsoft's cloud is hiccuping. Has anyone even noticed?

Microsoft's cloud has been down several times this month - but no one seems to have noticed.

Microsoft's cloud has been hiccuping all week, cutting North American customers off from access to the services included in its Business Productivity Online Suite, which includes Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and Office Live Meeting.

By checking the logs from Microsoft Online Services Team, it appears that the team was busy yesterday dealing with at least one service outages and several instances of "planned maintenance," before the issue was resolved, essentially leaving customers with intermittent access. There were issues on Tuesday, as well.

So, what's going on? Here's a snapshot of the bullet points in a letter to customers posted on the Online Services Team blog this morning about yesterday's outage.

I raise this point because yesterday's outage must have been pretty bad. No, I haven't actually seen any hard numbers but there was one tip-off that it was significant: In an early version of the letter, Microsoft said it is proactively issuing 25 percent credits on next month's invoices. Customers don't even have to ask for them. The later letter simply references a "credit."

That's a pretty hefty credit to issue for such an outage.

update: I received an email from a Microsoft representative who noted that there were two versions of the letters because of pricing differences between general customers and volume licensing customers. The company also issued the following statement:

On January 28, customers served from our North America data center may have experienced periodic connectivity problems with services included in the Business Productivity Online Suite. All services have since been fully restored. Root cause has been identified and linked to a problem with the network infrastructure. We sincerely apologize to our customers for any inconvenience.

Looking closer at the logs, it appears there was also an outage this morning, for about 75 minutes, and there's more planned maintenance for today.

And, the logs also show that Microsoft's Online Services team was pretty busy with access to Exchange Online also going down several times during the Week of CES, too. Prior to that, there hadn't been any issues with the online services since October. So, maybe January has been a pretty bad month for Microsoft's cloud.

Aside from all of the chatter that's sure to emerge about the reliability of the cloud, I can't help but wonder what this says about the what kind of customer base Microsoft has. After all, its cloud experiences a major outage - and I only call it major because of the size of the credit the company is proactively issuing - and that news flies under the radar? If this had been a Google Apps outage, you can rest assured that it would have been blown up across the blogosphere.

I'm just saying.