The outage that hit Microsoft's search engine, Bing, is the sort of occurrence that is going to be damaging. Not to whatever ad revenue it is pulling in, but to its perception as a cloud vendor. And that could hurt in the long run.
Microsoft has been offering email services for years. But there's a big difference between running technology that's been through the wringer and seen as well understood on one hand and having a mix-up of a major service that causes a 45 minute outage, according to non-company reports, as you're trying to roll changes out. Microsoft's version was that the outage (They say it was only 30 minutes.) was the time it took to detect and roll back a change that "was a configuration change during some internal testing that had unfortunate and unintended consequences."
The marketing and reputation problems facing Microsoft run as follows:
- The company wants to be perceived as an enterprise vendor that could be trusted for cloud services. Given the importance that search has to Microsoft, CIOs have to be asking themselves if they're going to get any better care.
- Rolling out changes and upgrades to systems without disturbing users is supposed to be an advantage of cloud computing. When things go wrong because you screw up in an upgrade, it's a bad sign.
- Another big advantage of cloud computing is supposed to be scalability. Bing has been boosting its traffic numbers, so whether it's fair or not, there could be some associations between problems and scaling.
- Microsoft hasn't even launched its cloud offering yet, so this is like prenatal growing pains. Again, bad for positioning.