Windows Azure Experiences Outage

Yesterday the Windows Azure cloud computing service was unavailable to users throughout Europe for two and a half hours. The outage left many bewildered and frustrated. The service in the Western Europe region is provided by servers in Microsoft’s Ireland data centre in Dublin and in a Dutch facility in Amsterdam.

Reluctant to Comment

Spokesmen from Microsoft were reluctant to comment on why the service was unavailable whilst the downtime led to a surge of Twitter activity all discussing the outage. Azure storage services continued to be available and running workloads stayed up, even though many users couldn’t access them.

According to Chris Leigh-Currill, CTO of Ospero, the fact that during the outage there was the constant availability of power and a lack of a software culprit, the cause of the downtime points to “more of an infrastructure issue”. That is to say that there was an undetected single point of failure in a network switch, or other device, that temporarily disrupted availability.

Problem Solved

Once the issue had been solved, and Azure cloud services had been restored, a restoration announcement was released by Microsoft: “The recent Windows Azure service interruption in the Western Europe sub-region has been resolved… The duration of the service interruption was approximately 2.5 hours. Customers who have questions regarding this incident are encouraged to contact Customer Service and Support.”

A spokesman then went on to add the following: “We apologise for any inconvenience this outage may have caused our customers. We will follow up as soon as we know more.”

This isn’t the first time Windows Azure has experienced downtime. At the end of February this year, the service went down as a result of a bug in the system that didn’t recognise the Leap Day and as a result set invalid expiration dates for security certificates.

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