Microsoft online service failure flags vulnerability of cloud-based services

London, UK: Microsoft’s cloud computing suite Office 365 went offline briefly, along with Hotmail and Skydrive. Millions of Microsoft users were left unable to access some online services overnight because of a major service failure, the BBC reports.

Such a major problem is likely to raise questions about the reliability of cloud computing versus local storage. Office 365 is the company’s alternative to Google’s suite of online apps. Its service also went offline briefly in mid-August, less than two months after it launched.

The latest disruption is believed to have lasted for around two-and-a-half hours, between 0300GMT and 0530GMT. Microsoft was still analysing the cause of the problem this morning, but said it appeared to be related to the Internet’s DNS address system.

In a blog, posted at 0649 GMT, Microsoft said: “We have completed propagating our DNS configuration changes around the world, and have restored service for most customers.”

Microsoft is not alone in suffering problems with its cloud-based applications. Google Docs was unavailable for a period on Wednesday however Microsoft’s Office 365 is a paid-for service with users charged £4 per month raising expectations among users of a more robust setup.