UPDATED 19:30 EDT / APRIL 01 2021

CLOUD

No fooling: Microsoft cloud outage takes Azure, Teams and Office 365 offline

Microsoft Corp. was hit by a massive cloud outage today that took most of its internet services offline.

Microsoft’s Azure cloud services, as well as Teams, Office 365, OneDrive, Skype, Xbox Live and Bing, were all inaccessible due to the outage. Even the Azure Status page was reportedly taken offline.

The first reports of the outage emerged from users on Twitter, and were confirmed by the website DownDetector, which showed that reports began flooding in at about 5 p.m. EDT. It says it received thousands of notices from Xbox Live, Teams and Office users.

Microsoft’s Azure Support account on Twitter posted the following message, redirecting users to an alternative Azure status page:

The cause of the outage was apparently a Domain Name System error. The Microsoft 365 Twitter status account stated that there is a “DNS issue affecting multiple Microsoft 365 and Azure services” shortly after the first reports of the outage appeared. The account then tweeted that the company was investigating a “potential DNS issue” at 5.56 p.m. EDT.

At 6 p.m. ET, the Microsoft 365 Status account posted another tweet, saying Microsoft is “evaluating our mitigation options.”

By 6.30 p.m. it looked as if Microsoft was regaining control of the situation. The Azure status page was back online and showed that the outage was a worldwide problem with “network infrastructure” down across every region. A status message said that a subset of users may experience “intermittent issues” with the company’s services.

At the time of writing, Microsoft appeared to be recovering from the outage. Microsoft 365’s Twitter status account posted another update at 6.35 p.m. EDT saying that traffic was being rerouted to resilient DNS capabilities and that it was already “seeing an improvement in service availability.”

It appears Microsoft has dealt with the issue rapidly, but the outage is nonetheless a big embarrassment for the company, coming just two weeks after a similar incident. On March 15, Microsoft Azure was also hit with an outage, resulting in Office 365, Teams and Xbox Live all being taken offline for about four hours.

Microsoft blamed that issue on “a recent change to an authentication system.”

Analyst Holger Mueller of Constellation Research Inc. told SiliconANGLE that an outage of this scale doesn’t just harm Microsoft, but the reputation of the entire cloud industry. He said DNS issues have traditionally been the most common cause of outages at Microsoft, and that the company would do well to rethink its network management approach and try to reduce some of the complexity.

“The outage is a sign of aging infrastructure,” Mueller said. “Network infrastructure gets more and more complex over time, but Microsoft is traditionally good at addressing the issues it faces in Azure, so it will be interesting to see the lessons learnt from this incident.”

Image: geralt/Pixabay

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