Microsoft 365 outage affecting Teams, Outlook and Azure users blamed on ‘networking fault’

Microsoft has identified a networking fault that has resulted in users being unable to access multiple services within its cloud-based portfolio of business productivity tools, including Teams and Outlook.

The software giant said in a service status update that any users who are “serviced by the affected infrastructure” may be unable to access multiple Microsoft 365 services, which – as well as Teams and Outlook – includes Exchange Online, Sharepoint Online, OneDrive for Business andMicrosoftGraph.

In a separate service status post, Microsoft said a “subset of users” of its public cloud platform Azure were also experiencing connectivity difficulties due to a “networking issue”, which the company is “actively investigating”.

According to internet service uptime monitoring service Downdetector, technical difficulties affecting Microsoft 365 services were first picked up on around 7am this morning (Wednesday 25 January), with the majority of users reporting server connection issues.

Microsoft used the social networking site Twitter to push out updates about the issues, which advise them to check the admin console for further details on the incident.

However, as multiple Twitter users have pointed out, the problems affecting Microsoft 365 have also rendered the admin site inaccessible too.

Other users seem to be taking the outage and the disruption it has caused to their working day in their stride.

“#MicrosoftTeams Thank you for the outage. Hopefully, you don’t fix it for a couple of days. Need a well needed break,” said one user.

At the time of writing, it is unclear how widespread the outage is from a geographical perspective, although the Downdetector website does state that users in India, Japan, Australia and the United Arab Emirates have also logged issues with the platform.

News of the outage comes just under a week since Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella confirmed the company would need to cut the size of its workforce by 10,000 people in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

“We’re living through times of significant change. When I think about this moment in time, the start of 2023, it’s showtime – for our industry and for Microsoft,” he said.

“That means every one of us and every team across the company must raise the bar and perform better than the competition to deliver meaningful innovation that customers, communities and countries can truly benefit from. If we deliver on this, we will emerge stronger and thrive long into the future; it’s as simple as that.”

“One of the biggest problems with using centralized platforms like Teams is that when it goes down, you have put all your eggs in one basket: your critical conversations have been held hostage in a single system, with a single point of failure”

Matthew Hodgson, Element

Computer Weekly contacted Microsoft for further clarification on the incident and when it hopes to have it resolved by, but – at the time of writing – no response had been forthcoming.

Meanwhile, Matthew Hodgson, co-founder of decentralized and secure collaboration and messaging platform Element, said outages like the one suffered by Microsoft meant users may default to using consumer-grade messaging services that could put their company data at risk.

“Teams regularly suffers major service interruptions, which forces businesses to fall back on cumbersome email – except now, Outlook has also failed. This means users are likely falling back on to centralized vendor-owned, consumer-grade comms apps like WhatsApp where sensitive discussions will be on Facebook-owned servers, leaving businesses with no control over how their data is stored, managed or accessed,” said Hodgson.

“One of the biggest problems with using centralized platforms like Teams is that when it goes down, you have put all your eggs in one basket: your critical conversations have been held hostage in a single system, with a single point of failure.

“Conversely, a decentralized system is far more reliable – avoiding any single point of control or failure, and protecting their users from significant disruption, just as the internet itself is resilient to global disruption.”

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