Microsoft has been accused of many things over the years but one thing they cannot be accused of is hiding the status of their online services behind walls of secrecy. In fact, if anything, they make it all very visible, warts and all. This is not at all like some of their competitors …
Most Office 365 users are not aware of the Service Health feature but anyone who has Office 365 admin rights should know about it as it really helps when users ask you about issues they might be having.
The Office 365 admin center is available to anyone with admin rights and it is accessed by clicking on the Admin icon from the “waffle” in the upper left corer of the Office 365 screen.
Once you are in the Admin Center the main dashboard display is a summary of the current status of your Office 365 service (this screenshot is from my tenancy):
As you can see, it is a pretty concise view of what is happening inside my tenancy and Office 365 itself. As you can also see, Office 365 is telling me that there is some sort of issue with Exchange. Clicking on the down arrow beside the Service degraded notice provides more information.
And the view details provides even more information.
The information provided describes the exact issue that is being worked on as well as what the expected time to resolution or next update will be.
If your users are complaining of issues with any of the Office 365 services the first thing you should do is check in with the Admin center and see if there are any issues noted. It can really be a time saver if you know what is going on before your users do. If the issues users report line up with what you are seeing in the portal then you know (and can let users know) that the problem is being worked on and that fixes should be forthcoming. There is little point in going through the process of opening a service ticket only to find that it is an already known issue that is already being reported through the Service health dashboard.
Microsoft is very serious about letting you know if there is an issue regardless of the severity of the issue. I have seen all services showing an alert of some kind yet not seen any real impact on service for me or my users. Frankly, I’d rather see them showing me the “warts” than hiding behind a wall of secrecy because it helps to build my trust in the service and in the “honesty” of the service provider. Using a Cloud service such as Office 365 is predicated on a strong trust relationship between you, as the consumer of the service, and the service provider. After all, you are already giving up a measure of (perceived) control by handing over your users to the Cloud service rather than using your own on-premise service. By doing so you are tacitly admitting (and hoping) that the Cloud service will be at least as good and as reliable as the service would be if you were providing it yourself; hopefully it will actually be much better. If you can’t trust the service provider to keep you in the loop as to the service status then what in hell is the point of going to the Cloud? There is nothing worse than being on the receiving end of angry phone calls and emails from users who can’t access a service while you are as much in the dark as they are.
The Service overview dashboard in Office 365 is your first and best information point for all things to do with Office 365 status, make a point of checking it on a regular basis. There is a lot of information provided above and beyond just the Current health status. Useful stuff!