olly - Fotolia

Coronavirus: Microsoft Teams outage disrupts remote working

A Microsoft Teams outage on Monday disrupted the workday of many users working from home around the world in efforts to avoid spreading the new coronavirus to co-workers.

Many users of Microsoft Teams were intermittently unable to send messages and perform other tasks Monday through the cloud-based collaboration app.

The Microsoft Teams outage came as millions of additional people started working from home to avoid spreading the new coronavirus, COVID-19. The virus has sickened more than 183,000 worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.

Companies are turning to collaboration apps like Teams to maintain business continuity during the outbreak. The sudden surge in remote work is testing the limits of cloud collaboration services. Last week, several Cisco collaboration services, including Webex Teams, were down for several hours.

Jesse Houwing, a consultant at IT firm Xpirit, based in the Netherlands, had to put conversations in Microsoft Teams on hold Monday. He was also unable to switch between the multiple Teams accounts he uses.

Houwing said Teams is not his only cloud app to malfunction of late. He also experienced lag during Slack video meetings on Monday. The issues cropped up shortly after many European countries told their citizens to stay indoors to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

"Many of us are working from home," Houwing said. "Everybody is now relying on these [collaboration] vendors for whatever critical thing it is that they are working on. This is kind of the ultimate load test."

This is kind of the ultimate load test.
Jesse HouwingConsultant, Xpirit

Issues on the Teams platform began sometime before 5 a.m. Eastern Time. At first, the disruption predominantly affected users in Europe. However, workers in the United States and other countries later also reported glitches, according to Ookla's outage tracking site, Downdetector.com.

Around 2:45 p.m. ET, Microsoft said on Twitter that it had "mitigated" the issue by rerouting traffic but was continuing to monitor the situation. The company declined to comment on what caused the malfunction.

Teams has received an influx of new users in recent weeks. The vendor previously said the usage of Teams in China increased by as much as 500% following the outbreak of the new coronavirus. Other collaboration vendors have reported similar spikes in traffic.

The Microsoft Teams outage Monday was the second in less than two months. In early February, the product's more than 20 million daily active users were unable to access the service for two hours after the company let a digital certificate expire.

Dig Deeper on Team collaboration software