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Microsoft Admits BPOS Downtime

SLAs reportedly affected by three BPOS interruptions in August and September.

Even as Microsoft urges partners to get more involved in representing its cloud offerings, the company struggled in August and September with three high-profile outages of its flagship Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS).

Microsoft acknowledged BPOS service outages affecting customers in North America on Aug. 23, Sept. 3 and Sept. 7.

All of the outages were associated with a Microsoft network upgrade effort, which initially knocked out the service for two hours on Aug. 23. A fix led to additional problems in September, according to Morgan Cole, a Microsoft director who blogged about the issues in September.

On Sept. 7, Microsoft had a problem with BPOS that had "more widespread customer impact, although the duration was relatively short," Cole stated.

A comment in that blog post by "Jim Glynn" indicated that Microsoft has credited some of its customers affected by the Aug. 23 BPOS outage. However, Glynn noted that customers should contact their BPOS representative to request compensation afforded by Microsoft for not meeting its service level agreement (SLA).

Uptime is a prime consideration for organizations using Software as a Service (SaaS) applications instead of the more traditional customer premises-installed solutions. Microsoft's "all-in" organizational move to the cloud, providing services to businesses and organizations, hangs on meeting its SLA agreements.

Compensation for not meeting the SLA may not be equivalent to the costs of lost business time, but it's the common practice for services providers, according to Robert Mahowald, research vice president for SaaS and Cloud Services at IDC.

"Web applications rely on access to the Internet, which of course adds another potential weak link in the chain of getting access to information and functionality," Mahowald explained in a phone interview. "But it's pretty much common practice for SaaS providers to guarantee 'three nines' of uptime ... which is about 28 hours a year in which they will not be accessible. Most of that is supposed to be scheduled downtime. Essentially, it's pretty much common practice for providers to pay service credits in recompense for the lost opportunity and to not pay any monetary fine."