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"Your complete office in the cloud" is how we think of Microsoft Office 365. While it gives us enormous pride that one billion people use Office, we deeply appreciate the responsibility we have to meet and exceed our customers' expectations every day. We recognize that productivity apps are mission critical; using them is how work gets done. It is imperative for us to ensure our service is trustworthy and reliable while we continue to add new capabilities to Office 365. Our measure for this is service availability.
Since launching Office 365 two years ago, we have continued to invest deeply in our infrastructure to ensure a highly available service. While information has been available in detail for our current customers, today we're making this information available to all customers considering Office 365. We measure availability as the number of minutes that the Office 365 service is available in a calendar month as a percentage of the total number of minutes in that month. We call this measure of availability the uptime number. Within this calculation we include our business, government and education services. The worldwide uptime number for Office 365 for the last four quarters beginning July 2012 and ending June 2013 has been 99.98%, 99.97%, 99.94% and 99.97% respectively. Going forward we will disclose uptime numbers on a quarterly basis on the Office 365 Trust Center.
Here are a few more details about the uptime number:
As a commitment to running a highly available service, we have a Service Level Agreement of 99.9% that is financially backed.
We have been building enterprise-class solutions for decades. In addition, Microsoft runs a number of cloud services like Office 365, Windows Azure, CRM Online, Outlook.com, SkyDrive, Bing, Skype and Xbox Live to name a few. We benefit from this diversity of services, leveraging best practices from each service across the others improving both the design of the software as well as operational processes.
Below are some examples of best practices applied in design and operational processes for Office 365.
Redundancy. Redundancy at every layer--physical, data and functional:
Resiliency. Active load balancing and constant recovery testing across failure domains:
Distributed Services. Functionally distributed component services:
Monitoring. Extensive monitoring, recovery and diagnostic tools:
Simplification. Reduced complexity drives predictability:
Human back-up. 24/7 on-call support:
We understand that there will be times when you may experience service interruptions. We do a thorough post-incident review every time an incident occurs regardless of the magnitude of impact. A post-incident review consists of an analysis of what happened, how we responded and how we prevent similar incidents in the future. In the interest of transparency and accountability, we share post-incident review for any major service incidents if your organization was affected. As a large enterprise, we also "eat our own dogfood," i.e., use our own pre-production service to conduct day-to-day business here at Microsoft. Continuous improvement is a key component to provide a highly available, world-class service.
Transparency requires consistent communication, especially when you are using online productivity services to conduct your business. We have a number of communication channels such as email, RSS feeds and the Service Health Dashboard. As an Office 365 customer, you get a detailed view into the availability of services that are relevant to your organization. The Office 365 Service Health Dashboard is your window into the current status of your services and your licenses. We continue to drive improvements into the Service Health Dashboard including tracking timeliness of updates to ensure so that you have full insight into your services health.
We also have some exciting new tools to improve your ability to stay up to date with the service. Last week we released a new feature in the administration portal called "Message Center." Message Center is a central hub for service communications, tenant reporting and actions required by administrators. Also, by the end of this year, administrators can expect a new mobile app that will provide service health information as well as other communications regarding their service.
Running a comprehensive and evolving service at ever increasing scale is a challenge and there will be service interruptions despite our efforts. We want to assure you that we are continually learning and are relentless in our commitment to provide you with a reliable highly available service that meets your expectations. Service continuity is more than an engineering principle it is a commitment to customers in our SLA and as one of the key pillars of Office 365 Trust Center (the other four pillars being Privacy, Security, Compliance and Transparency). This public disclosure of Office 365 uptime is evidence of our ongoing commitment to both Service Continuity and Transparency.
This is all great stuff, and I find O365 to have fantastic uptime. That said, please, please, PLEASE follow the trend of every other major cloud player by making your status available PUBLICLY. Examples include trust.salesforce.com, status.aws.amazon.com, www.google.com/appsstatus, and so on. EVERYBODY else does this - it really looks shady the way you don't.
"weighted on the number of people using each of these services" What does that even mean? Maybe you are hitting these numbers because, technically, the services are not "down", but just look at the number of "Service Degradation" instances, many last for as long as a week, and it becomes clear that, although the service is "up" it may not be really usable. For example, one incident states that there may be "delays when provisioning new user accounts". What good is the service if I cannot use it? What is the user experience like? Stay tuned, because shortly I will be writing a nice little write up on this as a follow up to my previous uptime post: blog.cloudsherpas.com/.../google-apps-vs-office-365-a-comparison-of-gmail-and-exchange-system-availability
Yes, your service may be up, but if you have constant "Service Degradation" issues, how usable is it?
Hi Jake, while it isn't available to anyone, it is available to those who have an Office 365 account: portal.microsoftonline.com/.../servicestatus.aspx
But I agree, publishing this information will help in the sense that people can see its availability much better
Availability done right :-)
Great for business users, what about O365 Home Premium and O365 University Users? I haven't been able to find a SLA for them
Rene - that's just not true. Only ADMINS have the ability to view the status of the service. Since I'm the only admin for my company, everyone is stuck asking me if the service is up (which it almost always is), rather than being able to self-serve by checking a PUBLIC website.
Since launching Office 365 two years ago, we have continued to invest deeply in our infrastructure to
"We measure availability as the number of minutes that the Office 365 service is available in a calendar month as a percentage of the total number of minutes in that month"
- To be fair I'm not sure this statement is factual accurate given it fails to take 'scheduled downtime' into account.
Every couple weeks we round up industry news and articles you might have missed. Read on for our latest selections.
Thanks Steven for your comment. We do not have any scheduled downtime for email with Exchange Online. For SharePoint and Lync, we do have rare scheduled maintenance and when we do, we carefully time it to be done during off-peak hours.
While the "weighting" of these numbers may be good for determining the severity of the outage to Microsoft and it's administrators, this weighting of calculations has no practical value to anyone trying to determine the reliability of your service. You're not helping me make a decision that's critical to my business' operations and you potentially come off as trying to hide something.
I would guess that no one in the industry gets to 'weight' their uptime numbers, especially if there's compensation directly tied to those numbers. It's either available, or it's not. That's how your end users are going to see it as well.
I agree with zenbiking. We found that the portal page is of little help if your company is amongst the "Individual customers may experience higher or lower uptime percentages compared to the global uptime numbers depending on location and usage patterns" and I personally advise to have a independent monitoring of your office365 services next to the Microsoft provided portal. It seems that this is not as transparant (yet?) as above article states. For the record: claiming money back does work, although you need to have patience and provide all tickets and proof
Thanks for your comments.
@Zenbiking – On your comment about trying to hiding something, what we have done is quite the contrary. We have considered the breadth of functionality that the entire Office 365 suite has to offer (i.e., Productivity, Email, Collaboration and Communication). We are calculating the uptime number based on the number of users using particular functionality to make sure they are represented appropriately. As an example, if there are more users using email, we would assign proportionately higher weight to the availability of that email compared to another functionality in the suite. We could simply publish uptime of Email but that would not be fully relevant to the customers that are also interested in other functionality in the Office 365 suite.
@Carry Megens – On your comment about the portal page, I presume you are referring to the Service Health Dashboard referred to in the blog. The information in the Service Health Dashboard is not a worldwide average or an aggregate value, but it is specific to those customers that may be experiencing an incident. We even provide details about incidents and actions are being taken towards resolution of the incident. Regarding your comment about transparency, we do have third-party systems that are monitoring certain aspects of Office 365 service.
Again, appreciate the conversations. Thanks for engaging.
Is there not a way to pull a service availability report from the tenancy? How is a customer meant to measure the service other than by taking your word for it?
Thank you for your comment. Individual organizations can calculate the monthly uptime percentage for their tenant using the method that is documented in our Service Level Agreement (linked in the blog above). We do financially back our SLA of 99.9%. In addition there is the Service Health Dashboard which provides relevant service health information.