Portions of Microsoft BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite), the software giant's SaaS platform, have gone dark for the second time in less than a month. Here's the update along with perspectives from The VAR Guy.

First, a tip of the hat: Mary Jo Foley reported today's BPOS outage on her blog, indicating that some North American customers suffered a 90-minute BPOS outage on Sept. 3. A previous outage occurred on Aug. 23. BPOS, as you'll recall, offers Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and other SaaS applications to end-customers. The VAR Guy has reached out to Microsoft for comment.

In an email reply to Foley, Microsoft stated:
This morning, beginning at roughly 10 AM eastern, some customers in North America began experiencing intermittent access to our data center. We identified a network issue as the source, and the issue was resolved roughly 90 minutes later. During the duration of the issue, customers may have experienced intermittent access to services. Customers received regular updates on the issue via our normal communication channels.  We apologize for any inconvenience the issue may have caused our customers."

Tricky Timing

Nobody likes site downtime. But Microsoft faces a particularly delicate situation. The company has made progress in recent months promoting its All In cloud strategy. However, Microsoft seems to be locked in a SaaS pricing battle with Google Apps. And many solutions providers are still wondering how -- or if -- they can generate meaningful profits from BPOS.

At the same time, Microsoft faces competition from its own service provider partners, where hosting companies like Intermedia have beaten Microsoft to market with Hosted Exchange 2010. Microsoft is still working to deliver its latest Exchange 2010 and SharePoint 2010 BPOS releases to customers by the end of 2010.

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