“UK authorities are currently investigating Microsoft’s claims that its 99.9 percent cloud uptime is in fact true, after a series of outages left Office 365 users without email or communications.
The Advertising Standards Agency is investigating a complaint over “marketing communication on Microsoft’s website” specifically in regards to the uptime claims the company makes in its advertising material.” – ZDNET (http://lncn.eu/wxy6)
After only a few months of going live, Microsoft have already failed at meeting their 99.9% up-time guarantee, personally this comes as no surprise considering that BPOS was notorious for it’s downtime. Microsoft have already paid out refunds to all the companies that were affected by the outages, so they are keeping their promises concerning down time refunds but will Microsoft improve their actual up time or remove the advertisement?
Last week Windows 8 developer preview was released into the world, users were able to install Windows 8 as their new operating system or install it as a virtual machine. One of the biggest new features of Windows 8 was the Windows phone 7 style front page view, the applications and widget ’tiles’ are made mainly from HTML5 and java which is a new direction for Microsoft, but what does this mean for SharePoint?
So far there has been no word from Microsoft as to what Windows 8 might do for SharePoint, but there have been some theories thrown around the internet as to what the new OS could do for SharePoint. One blogger (http://lncn.eu/eghw)thinks that it could greatly improve the SharePoint experiance. “Making Windows 8 widgets from SharePoint lists will be ideal to show important information to the user: Sales forecasts, New team members, Team workloads, New documents published, Internal news and many more.” This could make SharePoint administration much easier to keep up with on large networks, this wouldn’t just benefit administrators but all users, having lists be updated in tiles, allowing them to read announcements and access new documents directly from the Windows 8 front page, this would greatly improve SharePoint’s userbility in my opinion.
So far we have only really looked at migrating our SharePoint server to the cloud, we haven’t really looked at migrating the Exchange server at all. I have come across an article on ZDNET describing their Exchange migrating experience, this article highlights a big issue with the migration process and the limitations of Office 365.
In ZDNET’s artcile, “Outlook: Cloudy (with a chance of email)” they describe their migration into the cloud as being pretty smooth, that is up until they got to the much larger mailboxes. We already know that Office 365 does not allow users to send attachments over 25mb but what I didn’t realise is that when migrating the exchange server, office wont migrate emails that already have attachments over 25mb. This limitation can halt the migration process, which of course can cause a problem for anyone migrating to the cloud. The smaller mailboxes will continue to upload, but any mailboxes left out of migration will be considered a failure.
ZDNET also came up with a method to avoid these problems
“Possibly the easiest way to deal with the large message problem is to use Outlook’s Search Folders to build a dynamic query that will find all messages over a set size. You can sort the resulting virtual folder by size, and remove all the messages (or attachments) that are blocking the migration.”
Once these changes had been made, the migration process was simply restarted and completed. Fortunately, the good thing about migrating the exchange server is that users will still be able to use their emails while the migration is in process, so there is no interruption to service.
For the university however, this could be a very lengthy process as there are an extremely large amount of mailboxes to migrate, with thousands of staff accounts and thousands of student accounts to migrate over to the cloud.
A recent story that hit the news talked about how the only Amazon server for europe had been knocked out by a lightening strike. Amazon had warned it’s customers that they could be offline for up to 48 hours as they struggled to recover from the power disruption. It took 3 hours to recover from the first of the affected instances, but after 12 hours a quarter still remained offline, with knock on effects slowing their likely recovery time.
In light of this, it is of most importance to have backup plans that can be put in to place should these very unlikely natural disasters occur, or any other disasters for that matter. For instances such as lightening, a simple surge protector can do the job. If back up plans are not made and events such as fire, lightening, rioting, flooding, or power outages occur then business may not be able to trade or function, especially if everything (data) is stored in the cloud.
Further more to this issue, another article talks about how there are seven things in particular.
- Read your cloud provider SLA very carefully
- Don’t take your providers assurances for granted
- Most customers will forgive a company for it’s failings
- There are many ways you can supplement and cloud provider’s resilience
- Building in extra resilience comes at a cost
- Understanding the trade-offs helps you frame what to ask
- Lack of transparency may be a companies ‘Achilles Heel’