Here’s the message posted on the Azure service status page:
“Starting at 18 Aug 2014 17:49 UTC, we are experiencing an interruption to Azure Services, may include Cloud Services, Virtual Machines Websites, Automation, Service Bus, Backup, Site Recovery, HDInsight, Mobile Services, StorSimple and possible other Azure Services in multiple regions. Customers began to experience service restoration as updates were deployed across the affected environment. Next update will be provided in 30 minutes.”
That’s an awful lot of services, and the outages lasted for around three hours in most cases, affecting users in parts of the US, Asia Pacific, Brazil, Europe and Japan. GigaOM reports that the issue has since been resolved and that all services were back up and running as of 8pm eastern time, though the Azure status page continues to state “We’re having issues” at the time of writing.
Not surprisingly, Azure customers were less than pleased about the developments, taking to Twitter to vent their frustration:
If #Azure were a person I would politely tell it it’s an a-hole. All of our sites are down.
— Ryan Eastabrook (@ryaneastabrook) August 18, 2014
The outage is an embarrassing glitch for Redmond since it comes hot on the heels of a similar hiccup that saw Visual Studio Online taken offline for several hours last Thursday. Regular outages like this are hardly the best advertisement for a company that’s trying to convince its customers that cloud is the way to go and that its services and applications will always be available.
Last Thursday’s glitch was put down to a database issue that Microsoft fixed by rolling back some software changes it had made in the previous 24 hours. So far, it hasn’t explained what’s caused these latest problems – all it would say is that it’s “currently evaluating options to restore service” and will update its status page later on.
These incidents certainly won’t do much to help Microsoft in its war against cloud rivals Amazon Web Services and Google Corp., both of which are keen to lock-in developers on services. The companies are constantly fighting each other on price, but uptime is of course another big incentive, so Microsoft will need to get to the root of these problems and ensure they don’t crop up again any time soon.
Of course, Azure isn’t the first cloud platform to crash back down to earth and it probably won’t be the last either. Customers will just have to keep twiddling their thumbs a little longer in the meantime.