Microsoft says it’s providing Office 365 performance stats, without actually doing it

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My head just exploded a little bit. On Thursday, Microsoft said it wants to be upfront and honest about how well (or not so well) its Office 365 SaaS apps are doing. But it is not providing a public window into those stats, the way that, say Salesforce.comGoogle  and most other SaaS companies have done for some time.

Instead, in a blog post titled Cloud Services you can trust: Office 365 availability, here’s what Microsoft is sharing publicly:

“The worldwide uptime number for Office 365 for the last four quarters beginning July 2012 and ending June 2013 has been 99.98%, 99.97%, 99.94% and 99.97% respectively. Going forward we will disclose uptime numbers on a quarterly basis on the Office 365 Trust Center.”

Wow. Here’s what many users or prospective users should say back to Microsoft: “Trust But Verify.”

The  numbers provided, according to a spokeswoman, represent “an aggregate number of business data only for our commercial, education and government customers of Office 365. It includes the following workloads: Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Lync Online and Web applications. It is calculated for the Office 365 Service worldwide.”

Sorry, this does not even come close to being acceptable. Or even useful. If you happen to be an Office 365 customer you can see system status, but for John Q. Public who just wants to see what’s going on? Nuh-uh.

Update: Matt Cain, analyst with the Gartner Group called this announcement long overdue, but also incomplete. Via email he said:

“Up until now, Office 365 prospects have had difficulty getting this data, making it hard to make an informed decision. Customers and prospects, however, should treat this data with care. Because the data is rolled up quarterly (as opposed to monthly), and because it covers multiple workloads, and the  three vertical market instances  — .gov, .edu and .com – it is a very large-grain data point. Individual organizations can and will sustain outages.  But on the whole, the numbers do indicate an acceptable degree of reliability.”

If you’ve followed the rocky 8-month transition from Hotmail.com to Outlook.com (read the comments — they’re eye opening) you will know that Microsoft has had more than its share of problems in the SaaS department.

I would continue to rant here, but the sole commenter to the Microsoft blog post, which talks up the redundancy, resiliency and scale of Office 365 infrastructure, says it all:

“This is all great stuff, and I find O365 to have fantastic uptime. That said, please, please, PLEASE follow the trend of every other major cloud player by making your status available PUBLICLY. Examples include trust.salesforce.com, status.aws.amazon.com, http://www.google.com/appsstatus, and so on. EVERYBODY else does this – it really looks shady the way you don’t.”

Here is what Microsoft is not doing for Office 365.

Here is what Microsoft is not doing for Office 365.

This story was updated at 10:25 a.m. August 9 with analyst quotes.

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