Office 365 fails on a large scale – and thus provides another argument for more decentralization in IT

Posted by ownCloud GmbH – 25. January 2019

As several news sites report, there was a widespread breakdown of the online services of Microsoft Office 365 on Thursday, January 25. The extent of the outage only became clear after individual companies reported to media representatives and described that IT had been paralyzed since the morning hours (CET). The official statement by Microsoft was only made a few hours later via Twitter.

Microsoft reported that a subset of domain controllers of the Office 365 infrastructure is no longer responding. According to Computer Business Review, this affected customers around the world – in other words, a large-scale failure that is likely to have caused considerable economic damage to small and medium-sized companies in particular. The fact that the global corporation only responded with an explanation hours later also contributed to the uncertainty multiply expressed in social media.

Will the “business as usual” remain or has the time come for a change of strategy?

Of course, companies can see the recent disruption as another unfortunate incident, go back to business as usual, and trust their office infrastructure to work – most of the time. But they can also react differently and question whether it always makes sense to become dependent on centralized services. In case of doubt, the widespread use of office solutions leads to a failure at a central point affecting millions of users (and companies). Companies all over the world sacrifice their digital sovereignty for the promise of absolute carelessness when it comes to setting up and operating their own IT infrastructure. The fact that this can also have fatal consequences with regard to IT security has been demonstrated by countless incidents in the recent past (the ransomware malware programs Wannacry and Petya, for example, used a vulnerability in outdated Windows operating systems).

The market power of large IT companies is increasingly questioned in the light of increasingly frequent security incidents. Also because the realization of a decentralized infrastructure that individually meets the security and control requirements is easier than ever. Starting with hosting, file management and file sharing at various security levels, ownCloud offers a range of services and apps to create an IT infrastructure that offers the benefits of well-known SaaS solutions such as Dropbox, Google Drive and, of course, Microsoft Office 365, while giving every user full control over their files. Even the joint editing of Office documents is easy and secure to realize in just a few steps. Solutions such as Collabora and ONLYOFFICE can be integrated into ownCloud as standard and enable joint editing of office files via the ownCloud frontend.

Of course, even a decentralized infrastructure is not immune to failures. The difference to a centralized solution, however, is that in such a case only part of the infrastructure is affected and the entire operation is not paralyzed for several hours. Anyone who also relies on self-hosted solutions instead of SaaS can be sure that possible malfunctions will always have internal causes and can therefore also be rectified internally.

Companies therefore have the choice: to place their infrastructure further in the hands of large IT companies – or to make 2019 the year of digital sovereignty.

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