Azure outage disrupts cloud services across the globe

Just as Microsoft Azure gains traction against major competitors including Amazon Web Services, users today reported a worldwide outage that brought down businesses for hours.

Microsoft Azure's credibility as a reliable cloud platform took a shot to the ribs this week as many customers...

across the globe reported widespread outages shortly after midnight GMT on Nov. 19.

The outage knocked many online businesses offline, including several of Microsoft's Azure-based services such as Microsoft Office 365, Visual Studio Online, OneDrive for Business, the Windows Store and Xbox Live.

Microsoft released a statement early this morning that the company was "investigating an issue affecting access to some Microsoft services," and that they were "working to restore full access to these services as quickly as possible."

The issue has been mitigated for North Europe, but Microsoft continues to address issues impacting some virtual machine customers in West Europe, who see their VMs in a continual “Start state”, or can’t connect to their VMs, according to an update on the Azure Status site.

A source close to Microsoft, who wished to remain anonymous, said the outage was "big" but was "mostly" resolved by 1:00 a.m. ET. The source admitted, however, that there was some "overhang" in Europe this morning that has been largely resolved. 

Users in the U.S. and overseas, however, continued to report their online operations were still not up and had difficulty connecting to a variety of Microsoft and non-Microsoft services.

How much this shakes user confidence in Azure remains to be seen. Over the past year, Microsoft's cloud platform has taken share from its main rival, Amazon Web Services, as well as from Google. But some users are upset that it took the company too long to officially respond to the Azure outage as well as its duration.

"The poor communication from Microsoft was the biggest fail," said David Maas, a systems administrator with WoonInvest, a real estate company based in the Netherlands. "All statuses in the Azure portal were all green, but none of the VMs worked and that was 14 hours long. We will reconsider our cloud strategy."

Maas said his company hosts its Active Directory Federation Services and Office 365 environment on Azure, which is based in Western Europe, as well as half of its VM on-premises operation.

"So, whatever happened with our on-premises infrastructure, [we would] always [have] access to our Office365 environment," Maas added. "That was the idea."

Many Azure users took to Twitter to complain about how long it took Microsoft's Azure team to correct the problem.

"All our online services are available! Servers are back and run well again. [Eight hours] of maintenance, thank you," said one sarcastic tweet.

Senior news director Bridget Botelho contributed to this report

Ed Scannell is senior executive editor for TechTarget's Data Center and Virtualization media group. He can be reached at escannell@techtarget.com.

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for the record, MS isn't taking share from google because google is a distant 3rd in the cloud race. :) look at gartnet magic quadrants. google isn't even on it. only AWS and azure, both which go down occasionally have the market.

google is too late.
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