How to reduce the impact of outages in Microsoft 365

In November 2019, hundreds of thousands of workers across the US, Canada, Asia and Australia switched on their computers to work, only to be frustrated. Employees across countless organisations found that a number of their work applications – including Outlook, Skype, Teams and SharePoint – weren’t working because of an Microsoft 365 (M365) outage that lasted a total of four hours.

Unfortunately, this downtime is far from an isolated event, with a similar incident taking place across Europe earlier in the year. Microsoft promises its 365 users 99.9% uptime, which is comprehensive. However, this still means a potential 8 hours and 45 minutes of downtime a year – either due to outages or routine maintenance. Essentially, this is a full working day lost a year for every affected employee.

It goes without saying that many companies can’t afford to lose this time. These lapses in availability, even when they are relatively short, can have a serious impact on business productivity. According to Gartner, the average cost of network downtime is around $5,600 per minute or $300,000 per hour.

While workers might be able to substitute Microsoft Teams for an old-fashioned phone call in the short term, the serious issues really start to become apparent when we consider business-critical services such as email or business applications hosted in Azure.

Email remains a vital communication channel for most organisations, and one that they can’t do without. If an urgent email such as a contract needs to be sent or received, there are few alternatives if an organisation is completely reliant on email in M365 and that is down. In fact, one of the few alternatives that would usually be open to them – business applications – may well also be a blocked path if those applications are hosted in Microsoft Azure.

Continuity plans for when M365 is down

 There are a multitude of benefits to transitioning a business to M365, but outages are one of the risks. M365 has had outages before and it will happen again. If organisations recognise this and provision for it, the impact on day to day work can be minimised.

To reduce the risk of downtime, organisations need to have a backup – for example, third party providers that augment M365 can provide an emergency inbox service, hosted in the cloud, that provides access even when Microsoft services are offline. This means users can access their email through a web browser and keep working while Microsoft acts to restore M365 services. By using additional providers, the most critical business information can still be accessed, and companies can operate business as usual.

Censornet can protect your business from an Microsoft 365 outage – particularly Exchange Online. The Censornet Emergency Inbox and Compliant Email Archive eradicate downtime even if Exchange Online is unavailable, while full integration with on-premises AD, Azure AD, or both, ensures uninterrupted application access.

Visit our Defence365 hub to find out more about additional layers of security to protect your organisation, whether you are preparing for, migrating to, or strengthening the performance of your M365 environment.

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