My Email's Gone Cloudy

For the past several months I've been fighting to resolve network connectivity problems, especially with the Office 2013 version of Outlook. And then, suddenly, this week all the problems went away. Without me doing anything!

Those brave souls who subject their Monday morning coffee break to my rambling diatribes will no doubt recall some of the efforts I've made. Getting rid of ISA Server. Reorganizing my DNS infrastructure. Replacing my wireless access point. Upgrading the internal network to 1 GB switches. Replacing the load-balancing router. Upgrading both ISP connectivity packages. And generally fiddling with settings and options in Outlook.

While all this has provided some dramatic improvement, especially in the areas of web browser responsiveness and removing the occasional failed connections, it made absolutely no difference to the way Outlook resolutely and randomly disconnected, spend minutes trying to synchronize with the mail server, and left sent messages in the Outbox for up to an hour before dispatching them.

Wits end was becoming a regular destination during my working day, especially when waiting for an urgent email to arrive. Those conversations where someone says "I've just sent you an email..." became embarrassing "I'll call you back" events, and last-minute emails sent just before the team went home didn't get read until the next day. I was fast becoming an email pariah.

Of course, I regularly phoned our tech support people to try and solve the problem, and they were generally helpful until I mentioned that it happened on all my computers, on Windows 7 and Windows 8, and so it probably wasn't a hardware or software issue - at which point the usual response was "It must be your network that's the problem." They assured me there were no issues with the mail server or the configuration of my mailbox. Maybe I should just move house, or go back to snail mail.

Yet now, huge joy, it's working fine. No delays. No loss of connectivity. No more hourglass or warning triangle on the Outlook notification icon. Messages fly out before I even see them hit the Outbox, and incoming messages appear almost before they were sent. Why? Because this week I was upgraded from Exchange Server in our local datacenter to Office 365 Exchange Online running in Azure. So maybe not all of the problems were actually my fault?

I wonder if I can send the IT department a bill for my network upgrades...