Jul 01

Microsoft Office365 Exchange Online Service Performance Degradation and SMTP Problems

office365A few years ago, we migrated our email service to Microsoft’s Office365 cloud service. Overall, it’s been very reliable and eliminated the challenges we had hosting Exchange ourselves. It let us get to our emails using Outlook installed on Windows, any internet browser, and smartphones. Office365 also offered other Office product online (Access Web Apps, Excel, Word, etc.), SharePoint and OneDrive Business.

Unfortunately, on the morning of June 30th, we discovered:

  • Delays sending and receiving emails
  • Some emails were bouncing back from recipients who couldn’t validate our Office365 Exchange Server’s SMTP (protection.outlook.com) with our domain name. That meant the Exchange SMTP server was no longer considered a trusted sender of emails from the @fmsinc.com domain.
  • Our use of the Office365 SMTP server to send emails with our Total Access Emailer product was also failing to authenticate against the server

The problems began the evening before. Needless to say, we aren’t happy about this experience which impacted us and our clients using Office365. Reports are that it affects Office365 customers across North America.

exchangeContacting Microsoft, they confirmed problems with the health of their Office365 Exchange Server. Throughout the day, problems lessened but persisted. We hope the problems are resolved soon and that we’ll understand what went wrong once we overcome the immediate crises.

These are the reports we’ve received from Microsoft. We’ll keep you updated as we learn more:


Exchange Online Service Degraded

This is what the Office365 Admin portal shows for Service Health:

Office365Issues

Office365Health


EX71628 – E-Mail and calendar access – Restoring Service

Jun 29, 2016 12:11 PM

CURRENT STATUS

Our investigation determined that an existing transport feature which is designed to expedite the delivery of email messages became degraded, which caused impact to email delivery for a subset of users. We’re bypassing the affected feature to restore service

User Impact

Users may be unable to send email messages through the Exchange Online service. Email messages may appear to be stuck in the Drafts or Outbox folders.

Scope of Impact

A few customers have reported this issue, and our analysis indicates that for most customers, it’s unlikely that many users would report impact related to this event.

  • Start Time: Thursday, June 23, 2016, at 3:00 PM UTC

Preliminary Root Cause

An existing transport feature that is designed to expedite the delivery of email messages became degraded, which caused impact to email delivery for a subset of users

EX71628 – E-Mail and calendar access – Extended recovery

Jun 30, 2016 2:18 PM

Current Status

We’ve developed an additional fix to address the underlying cause of the issue. We’re preparing to deploy the fix to the affected environment to ensure that the issue does not reoccur.

User Impact

Users may be unable to send email messages through the Exchange Online service. Email messages may appear to be stuck in the Drafts or Outbox folders.

Scope of Impact

A few customers have reported this issue, and our analysis indicates that for most customers, it’s unlikely that many users would report impact related to this event.

  • Start Time: Thursday, June 23, 2016, at 3:00 PM UTC

Preliminary Root Cause

An existing transport feature that is designed to expedite the delivery of email messages became degraded, which caused impact to email delivery for a subset of users.

Next Update by: Saturday, July 2, 2016, at 7:00 PM UTC


EX71674 – E-Mail timely delivery – Service restored

Jun 30, 2016 7:35 PM

Final Status

We’ve confirmed that the remaining message queues have now drained after implementing a configuration change to optimize message filtering.

User Impact

Users were experiencing delays when sending and receiving email messages. Affected users may have received Non-Delivery Reports (NDR) when sending email messages.

Scope of Impact

Customer reports indicated that many users likely experienced impact related to this event. Our analysis indicates that this issue may potentially have affected any of your users attempting to send or receive mail.

  • Start Time: Thursday, June 30, 2016, at 2:30 PM UTC
  • End Time: Thursday, June 30, 2016, at 11:30 PM UTC

Preliminary Root Cause

The infrastructure responsible for processing Exchange Online Protection (EOP) message filtering became degraded.

Next Steps

  • We’re analyzing performance data and trends on the affected systems to help prevent this problem from happening again.
  • We’re reviewing our code for optimizations and automated recovery options.
  • We’ll publish a post-incident report within five business days.

EX71674 – E-Mail timely delivery – Service restored

Jul 1, 2016 12:08 AM

Final Status

We’ve rolled out the fix and confirmed that service is restored. Any meeting requests created during the outage will need to have the conference room calendar removed and readded to book the room.

User Impact

Users that attempted to create a meeting request with a conference room calendar were unable to successfully book a conference room. This lead to conference rooms being booked by multiple resources.

Scope of Impact

A few customers reported this issue, and our analysis indicated that this may have affected any users attempting to use this feature.
  • Start Time: Monday, June 27, 2016, at 6:00 PM UTC
  • End Time: Friday, July 1, 2016, at 2:54 AM UTC

Preliminary Root Cause

A recent update affected the ability for calendar invite requests to successfully book conference rooms.

Next Steps

  • We’re reviewing our deployment and provisioning procedures to help prevent this kind of problem in the future.
  • We’ll publish a post-incident report within five business days.

Aug 07

Microsoft Access and Office 2010 Service Pack 2 (SP2) Enhancements and Issues

New Paper: Microsoft Access and Office 2010 Service Pack 2 (SP2) Enhnacements and Issues

Microsoft has released Service Pack 2 (SP2) for Microsoft Office 2010. It includes enhancements to Access, Excel, Groove, Office. Outlook, PowerPoint, Project, SharePoint, Visio, Word, and more.

Read our new paper listing:

  • Links to the Download and List of Enhancements
  • List of Updated Products
  • Microsoft Access Enhancements and Fixes:
    • Microsoft Access Object Issues
    • Repair and Compact Issues
    • Microsoft Excel Related Issues
    • Access Web/SharePoint Issues
    • Windows 8 64-bit Issue
    • Runtime Version
  • Known Issues from Microsoft
  • A Confirmed Bug between MS Access 2010 and SharePoint 2013
  • Additional Resources for Microsoft Office and Office 2010 SP1
May 01

Be Careful Making Appointments on Your Smartphone from a Different Time Zone

Microsoft Outlook Tips and Techniques

When travelling in Texas recently, I received an email for a noon lunch appointment the following week. So I added it to Outlook on my Windows Phone as usual.

Unfortunately, I missed the appointment because when I returned home to Eastern time, the appointment appeared on my calendar as 1 PM (noon in Texas). It was rude, embarrassing, and bad for business.

Read our new paper on why and how to avoid this: Missing an Appointment Set on a Smartphone while in a Different Time Zone

Sep 22

Email Collaboration using Microsoft Outlook and Exchange from a Database Perspective

One of the challenges most organizations face is how to coordinate communications and tasks among team members and external contacts. With multiple people and clients/projects, emails fly in many directions. People with vital information may be unreachable while customers may be providing information to someone in your organization while others who need that information are oblivious. When someone leaves a team or organization, much of their information is lost.

Microsoft OutlookOver the years, we've helped several clients better manage their emails and treat them like a database. We've built solutions that work with Exchange and Outlook to automatically classify contacts, tag emails, and store the information in a Microsoft SQL Server database. The data is presented through a Microsoft Outlook add-in showing all communications with a contact's firm when you create or respond to an email. The data can also be displayed in the Facebook like interface to make it easy for everyone on your team to know what's going on.

There's no longer a need to look in someone else's Inbox since information is immediately shared between everyone who needs to know (even before the recipient opens their message). Searching for messages is quick and easy, and corporate document retention policies can be enforced.

To learn more about this and other innovative activities of our Professional Solutions Group, please contact our consulting team.