What caused the Microsoft Office 365 outage and was there any danger of a catastrophic event? The main question that arises is how such a critical piece of software could go down, but also how it could possibly be fixed.
At this stage it may appear that there is nothing to worry about, but there is always a risk that an outage will occur in the future.
We now know that Microsoft have been testing the Outlook service as a part of their regular service to make sure that the system works well. In the past, they had used the same system for their Outlook service, but they have now upgraded this service. If they were to lose a large scale test they would have faced severe consequences. Source
As well as this, they have also released the test version to customers for a trial period, so that they can actually try the service out themselves. During this time they are able to provide feedback as to what they experience with this system. This feedback will help to determine whether or not the system will actually work as expected for their needs. There has been no feedback yet as to whether or not the testers have received their test email messages and if so, how they have received them.
This is another reason that this outage has happened, as Microsoft was very keen on this test and they put a lot of effort into it. They are hoping that once the test is completed then they will feel confident enough to offer the real deal. If there was an issue that was found during the test, then the system would not be ready for prime time, which means that there may be some issues when the real service launches in a few weeks.
Another issue that came up after the test was completed was how Windows was protected against attacks and what methods would be required to secure the system. The test was done by sending large numbers of fake emails, trying to gain access to the system and take control. This method was not successful, but it did cause a lot of problems for the system and caused a lot of downtime. It is therefore interesting to note that a security firm was contracted to find out why the test was unsuccessful and if any other problems were found during the process.
After this information was gathered, the security firm was asked to investigate the cause. After a number of tests, they concluded that there was a problem with one component of the system which was the Outlook component. This component contained a virus. The virus was not actually malicious but it was a program that had accidentally installed itself onto the system.
This virus was causing such a huge impact, causing so many problems on the Microsoft Exchange database that it was difficult for the users of the system to get through it.
Once this component was identified, it was easy to remove and therefore the test was stopped. Microsoft has made it clear that the problem that occurred in the test was due to a mistake and has requested that the users remove the virus from the test server.
The lesson here is that no matter what type of system you have in your office, it is extremely important that all staff are aware of the importance of updating the software regularly and that the maintenance testing is carried out at all times. A mistake will eventually show itself, as you have to replace the entire server and not just a single part.