It's not easy worshipping at the temple of cloud computing. Google and Amazon, which suffered recent outages, know this full well.
Now Microsoft, which has gloated over Google's cloud outages in the past, feels its rivals' pain.
As my eWEEK colleague Nick Kolakowski wrote about the failure that led to Microsoft BPOS customers without email last week:
"On May 10, malformed email traffic sparked a growing message backlog that impacted some customers for up to six to nine hours. The issue occurred again May 12, compounded by a separate but related problem that led to customer delays as long as three hours."
"Then, just to top off what was already a stressful week for Microsoft's BPOS engineering teams, a failure in the Domain Name Service hosting mail.microsoftonline.com stopped users from accessing Outlook Web Access hosted in the Americas. That issue also affected Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync devices."
BPOS, of course, is Microsoft's cloud-computing answer to Google Apps, providing Web-based email and productivity applications to customers interested in letting Microsoft host their applications and maintaining them. It's a nice break from Microsoft's traditional, local server-to-client model.
Talk about going from suck to suckier in short order, leading Microsoft to issue a rare apology, albeit one that echoed those from Google outages past. Dave Thompson, corporate vice president of Microsoft Online Services, apologized and provided a detailed explanation for the outage:
"I'd like to apologize to you, our customers and partners, for the obvious inconveniences these issues caused. We know that email is a critical part of your business communication, and my team and I fully recognize our responsibility as your partner and service provider."
Google, which is no stranger to cloud outages going back to 2008 and saw its last serious outage cripple Gmail for some 30,000 consumers and paid Google Apps in February, wisely declined to comment.
Google would certainly be within its rights to take potshots, especially considering Microsoft has a whole blog, Why Microsoft, reserved in part for posts trashing Google Apps' reliability and performance versus BPOS.
Microsoft, you see, came to the cloud in force last year after Google has spent the last 4 years straining to grab 3 million business customers.
But don't think Googlers aren't jeering. A little birdie told me Google's Apps sales team is enjoying Microsoft's BPOS pain. On a more sober note, the birdie told me:
"It's more just a sense of satisfaction that others are now appreciating how difficult it can be to run cloud services at scale."
Microsoft, welcome to the cloud, where one day data is ebbing and flowing wonderfully between customer and cloud and the next it is washed out in a torrential downpour of human error, faulty servers and routers, or corrupt ones and zeroes.
The thing about the cloud is--it's great when it works, but when it goes down, the IT admin is rendered powerless and at the mercy of the vendor, which must find the problem and provide fixes.
Not everyone wants to cede that control, or else the whole business world would have shifted over by now instead of in dribs and drabs.