Updated Intermedia, the world's largest third-party provider of hosted Microsoft Exchange services, today delivered a masterclass in how to mismanage customers' expectations when cloud services crash.
Hordes of angry customers on both sides of the Atlantic took to Twitter this afternoon to complain about "issues" with the company's services, which also include storage, wireless email and unified comms.
@atyourserver said: "Intermedia_net is down this morning, all services seems to be effected (sic), no ETA at the moment."
Another, Dan G Switzer II, added that the problems appeared to have kicked off at the Virginia data centre, but "now all appear down".
He pointed out the "problem" with VoiP systems is that when the infrastructure goes down it takes the phone and data network with it.
A UK customer told us: "Apparently, all services are down now – including VOIP which has left us completely cut off since around mid-morning. To make matters worse, all their backup and support services (which are meant to be on a separate network) have also gone down, so I cannot even contact them."
@artful manager complained that hosting was down "and nobody answers your phone. Any news to share with your customers?"
The lack of status update on the social networking site irritated scores of customers and there were numerous threats by tweeters that they would seek an alternative.
This latest outage comes hot on the heels of a mini-blackout last weekend when servers "went offline", said a UK customer who complained he had been impacted today.
"A guy on live support has told me it is only us but I can't even log onto the control panel to log a support ticket," he told us.
"I can't access email or stored documents, it is painful as I can't do any work. All phones at Intermedia are dead," he claimed.
El Reg called Intermedia's 0800 customer support numbers, and the offices in London and in New York, but they did not work.
Just over an hour ago at the time of publication, hours after the first complaints emerged, Intermedia tweeted:
@intermedia_net addressing network issue impacting some customers. Anticipate resolution soon. Apologize for impact. Will update ASAP.— Intermedia (@intermedia_net) September 3, 2013
Intermedia offers a financially backed SLA so customers can likely expect a credit towards future services.
Updated to add
An Intermedia spokesman has been in touch, stating:
"We experienced network issues early this morning that impacted many customers in more than one data center, as well as our own support desk. We apologize to our customers and partners for any disruptions."
The company claimed it contacted "most" customers via "alternate email addresses, text messages and our HostPilot control panel (as we always do)" as soon as it "recognized the issue". This was certainly not reflected in the comments from annoyed punters on Twitter, as highlighted by El Reg.
The PR man added: "We regret not being able to be as responsive as usual given the number of calls."
Intermedia has yet to respond to specific questions about the technical issues that brought down its services. ®