Microsoft customers in US, Canada and Mexico struggled through a nine hour Exchange Online outage that crippled email systems in North America. The problem affected hosted Outlook accounts as well as Office 365 users and frustration levels mounted as customers were unable to find out what the problem was or when it might be fixed.
Writing on the Office 365 Community forums, Microsoft support member David Zhang explained what had happened:
"On Tuesday, June 24, 2014, at approximately 1:11 PM UTC, engineers received reports of an issue in which some customers were unable to access the Exchange Online service. Investigation determined that a portion of the networking infrastructure entered into a degraded state. Engineers made configuration changes on the affected capacity to remediate end-user impact. The issue was successfully fixed on Tuesday, June 24, 2014, at 9:50 PM UTC."
While this did help to lift the mood of customers somewhat, there was still frustration at the lack of communication that took place. The number of people affected is not known, but the problem served to highlight the importance many companies place on Exchange online. One forum user, Jeffrey KaneLizerbram, posed the question: "This brings up a question - what are an organization's "backup" plan options when Office 365 email is down? 8 hours is a long delay affecting systems that rely on messaging, for example, payroll, invoices, medical reports in a life/death situation, etc."
Other users complained that they are still to receive any emails from the outage period, and the full impact is yet to be assessed. But the good news is that things are now back up and running -- it's just a matter of picking up the pieces.