When Is an Outage Not a Priority?

When Microsoft Office 365 went down again last month, a painful truth emerged as the outage rolled on for several days – a big deal for your company is not always a big deal for Microsoft.

There’s been repeated Office 365 cloud email outages recently, from an American Office 365 email outage in July to the Azure Active Directory problems that impacted much of Europe in early December.

When Microsoft Office 365 went down again last month, a painful truth emerged as the outage rolled on for several days...
When Microsoft Office 365 went down again last month, a painful truth emerged as the outage rolled on for several days...

But what’s different about this one is how slow Microsoft  was to respond – maybe because it just affected customers that use IMAP. Microsoft promised to fix the problem by January 23 – five days after the outage.

Certainly Office 365 is not the only service to suffer like this – outages happen, but the reason why Office 365 outages grab widespread attention is because of its increasing popularity and the business critical nature of the email management services it provides.

But there is something significant about this one: what appears to be a failed service update could create an outage lasting more than week. This highlights that your problem and Microsoft’s problem aren’t always aligned. With the number of companies adopting Microsoft Office 365 increasing quickly (as many as 50,000 a month) this problem only gets worse over time. Far fewer customers will be using IMAP, so there is a perceived risk that problems will be treated as a lower order priority fix. This underscores a risk to any organization’s business continuity and data security. No business should rely on a single provider for a critical service such as email. Additional third-party cloud services are the only way to manage these risks.

For many businesses, email is their most critical IT workload. Email continuity is also highly valued by employees. Tolerance for email downtime is almost zero as it costs money, damages reputations and cripples business operations. In short, we all need it to work and to work all the time.

For years IT teams have built disaster recovery plans and systems predicated on the belief that IT fails and you always need a plan B. Nothing changes in a cloud first world. Cloud services clearly fail and if you don’t have an independent email continuity service, your email will be down until Office 365 gets it back up again. And you can’t control when that will happen. One hour. Five hours. In the case of the IMAP failure, 7 days.

So take a page out of the on-premises risk management handbook. Make Office 365 safer with the addition of an independent third-party email continuity service and by keeping an Office 365 disaster recovery solution in place.

For all its strengths, if you rely 100% on Office 365 for your email you are asking for trouble. It’s just a matter of time.

Find out more about how Mimecast can help keep your business running during an Office 365 outage here

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