Microsoft Teams goes down just as Europe logs on to work remotely

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft’s chat and communications tool, Microsoft Teams, went down across Europe this morning for more than two hours. The outage started just as thousands of workers started to sign into the service and attempt to work remotely amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Microsoft Teams users were experiencing issues signing into the service and sending messages, and Microsoft rectified the European issues after just over two hours.

The software giant initially issued a statement revealing that the company had “resolved an issue that may have impacted a subset of customers in Europe,” but then the service experienced issues once again as more workers around the world started accessing it at around 11:30AM ET today. The issues appear to be intermittent, and Microsoft is now monitoring the performance of Teams.

“We’ve taken steps to address an issue that a subset of our customers may have experienced. Our engineering teams continue to actively monitor performance and usage trends,” says a Microsoft spokesperson.

The timing is less than ideal, just as many businesses are encouraging employees to work remotely and collaborate using services like Microsoft Teams. Even schools are also using tools like Microsoft Teams for remote education, with some schools in The Netherlands instructing students to log into the service today for digital questions.

This is the second major outage to hit Microsoft Teams this year. The service also went down after Microsoft forgot to renew a key SSL security certificate last month. Microsoft eventually got Teams working again after three hours of issues, and apologized for missing the expired certificate.

Microsoft’s Teams issues also come just hours after Xbox Live went down briefly. Microsoft hasn’t revealed the exact cause of the Xbox Live outage, but it’s likely related to an increase in demand. Steam reached a new concurrent online user record of 20 million, just as people start to stay at home more during the coronavirus pandemic.

Update, March 16th 1PM ET: Article updated with a new statement from Microsoft.

Comments

There will be many similar issues in the coming days / weeks. In France we’re heading toward a full confinement of the population (except for groceries and medical supplies) just like in Italy. I’m fortunate enough to be able to work from home but that will obviously put an heavier load than usual on the cloud services we’re using (Google Apps, Zoom, Slack, etc.). Still, I’m relieved that our governments are willing to take such drastic measures. It doesn’t seem to be the case at all in the US and I find that really saddening as many people will suffer from this inaction.

The county that I live in here in PA requested that all non-essential businesses close for the the next 2-3 weeks last night and from what I can tell most companies are indeed closing their physical locations. My wife and I are currently working from home for the foreseeable future.
I agree that this will put a strain on cloud service to some extent, but I think more likely here in the US will be the strain on home internet which is not really designed to be used all day at higher capacity since almost all of it is over sold and under-provisioned. I have noticed a bit of slowness even over the weekend as most people stayed home and streamed/played games than usually would.

Too many here still believe the media is overhyping this. Or that it’s a hoax. Which is why it took so long just to declare it a national emergency.

The problem with science is that it is still facts even if certain politicians don’t want them to be.

Not sure you’re getting the latest news from the US then. I live in the Chicago area and so far they’ve shut down schools, bars, and restaurants (save for take-out food). Seems most companies that have people who can work from home are having people work from home. In New Jersey they’re just announcing the closing of just about everything thats non-essential. So it’s happening here too.

Weren’t the people using Teams already using it at work before they were asked to work from home? Or is it that suddenly many people started working from home and started using Teams?

Not quite sure I understand why suddenly there is a surge in load for Teams, even if I completely understand how/why many people are now working from home.

When remote work isn’t the usual norm in your company, many discussions / meetings are held physically, which limits the load on tools like Teams. Now overnight a huge portion of these interactions are happening online, and the servers saw a surge in traffic as a consequence. Microsoft will need to provision more resources to these kind of services to absorb the additional load.

Makes sense. I had assumed that people using Teams by default were people already needing international cooperation, but I didn’t account for Teams replacing the local interactions

Does not really make much sense since Microsoft owns giant server farms for all kinds of cloud operations. The failure of the Teams service shows that it was configured very poorly and thus unable to dynamically increase the number of servers with load.

It’s also entirely possible the outage had nothing to do with load. Typically cloud service outages have more to do with misconfiguration issues than actual issues with performance and load-balancing.

It would be interesting to see the numbers. In my firm in EU we were using Teams before, but after this monday i think our usage increased something like 10 times. We have some people using Teams instead of a room with a board for hour long brainstorming sessions and such.

My company has employees scattered all over America and some in Canada. I live a 20 minute bus ride from the SF office but half the time I haven’t bothered to go into the office because I’m just chatting on Teams all day anyway. Might as well do that at home. So the situation now isn’t that different, but if Teams goes down, my company can’t function.

In my country (Croatia) Teams is one of the 3 options available for schools to execute remote classes. Before this almost nobody in education department didn’t even heard of Teams, let alone used it. Since Teams is bundled with Office365 and I assume many schools in many countries use Office365, globally there’s influx of millions of users just from schools.

I am from Czech Republic, I am on Teams from 7:00, I had several online meetings and no problem so far. I hope it stays this way…

Same here. No problems. Greetings from Germany.

Thanks Microsoft lol

If sheer incompetence had a name, it’d be Microsoft.

If blatant fanboyism had a face, it’d be you.

And what exactly am I a fanboy of?

!Microsoft

My impression while using Teams is that so much of it was made to be "good enough." There are annoyances and things that go down for a little bit, but it was always not bad enough to stop using. It seems like they didn’t budget very much for it, and now it’s failing under a stress test that they never anticipated or can’t handle because they were running so close to the line already.

I believe this is the truth. It was created as a slack competitor but someone decided "let’s not spend too much on this, just in case it fails then we didn’t invest too much."

My impression is that Microsoft is investing heavily in Teams, with them trying to get everything and everyone inside it so you can do all your work inside it.

That said, Microsoft hamstrung themselves by building it on top of SharePoint, and AFAIK most of the issues people have (beyond "why don’t you prioritise development of feature X") can be traced back to its ties to legacy technology.

Either way Microsoft can make some major changes and investments into Teams now and keep everyone in it as we all have it installed by default so nobody wants to hassle with trying slack or something else instead.

I think they’re heavily invested in Teams, but I also get the feeling it wasn’t originally scoped to be what it has become (replacing Skype for Business, task/project management, etc).

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