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Microsoft's Online Business Suite Gets a Dashboard

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Posted September 29, 2010 By Stuart J. Johnston     Feedback

Microsoft adds improved management facilities to its online services suite for cloud computing customers.

Microsoft was almost a non-starter in cloud computing just a few years ago — but it has worked hard, built massive data centers worldwide, and come out with what customers apparently feel is a compelling set of offerings, including its Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS).

In fact, BPOS is growing in popularity. The state of Minnesota announced this week that it has signed a deal with Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) to supply the state's Office of Enterprise Technology, as well as any other state and local government bodies that choose to participate, with BPOS.

Now, Microsoft is adding dashboards to BPOS in order to give customers more information on how the suite is functioning, the company said on Monday.

BPOS consists of Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Office Communications Online, and Office Live Meeting — providing subscription services in the cloud ranging from email and instant messaging to collaboration using document sharing and electronic meetings.

"Today, we're taking a step forward in delivering more timely, accurate and targeted information about BPOS service status by introducing the Microsoft Online Service Health Dashboard," Morgan Cole, a company spokesperson, said in a post to the Microsoft Online Services Team blog.

"I have talked with a number of customers and followed your comments closely. One theme that has carried through — both in past and more recent conversations — is the desire of our customers to have more detailed information about the status of their services," Cole added.

Microsoft is providing individual dashboards for each of its three international data center regions — North and Latin America (NOAM); Europe, the Middle-East, and Africa (EMEA) and Asia-Pacific (APAC).

When the dashboard comes up, it displays all BPOS services and their status for the day and week, as well as historical status showing the most degradation that the suite has experienced that day, the post said.

Each service or tool on the dashboard shows one of four icons that indicates its level of availability. Additionally, three separate, clickable icons provide deeper information regarding services. They are labeled Service Interruption, Performance Degradation, and Additional Information, Cole added.

Additionally, a Previous Week link enables systems administrators to view data from previous weeks.

Microsoft does not typically give numbers of users of different products, but company executives said in June that its overall number of paid online service subscribers, which includes BPOS users, had reached 40 million.

That kind of popularity can sometimes be troublesome, however. In August and September, BPOS services experienced multiple outages.

Perhaps that's another area where the new dashboard may turn out to be useful for customers' support staff.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.

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