Microsoft issues statement on cloud downtime

Microsoft has hit a bumpy road today with its cloud services. It was first reported that its Office 365 was experience a disruption and not long after that its SkyDrive service was also experiencing a similar issue.

Microsoft has officially commented on the issue. In a statement to Neowin they have said:

“At approximately 11:30am PDT, Microsoft became aware of a networking issue affecting customers of some Microsoft services hosted out of one of our North American data centers. We worked to isolate the issue and we are beginning to see service restoration. We continue to investigate the root cause of this issue.” - Steven Gerri, General Manager, Global Foundation Services

Both Office 365 and SkyDrive have deployed fixes for their respective issues and service should be restored at this time.

For users of the Cloud, downtime such as this is a stark reminder that they are not in control of their data. As corporations try to entice users to move to the cloud, they must be ready and willing to deal with all outages such as these.

Fortunately for Microsoft, the outage was only a couple of hours. A fast response time helped to mitigate the fear of the Cloud going down for days at a time.  

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Nokia CEO sees "danger" in Motorola-Google merger

Next Story

Free version of CryEngine 3 released

20 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

Three (3) considerations about the Cloud.

1. Currently it is impossible to guarantee data will not be compromised. Going forward, there will be even less assurance of security. If you create a target, people will hit it. Ask RSA.

2. 100% up time is simply false. From failure at the processor level to natural disasters, computers go down and all the hubris about fail safe systems is wishful thinking.

3. No company can guarantee they will survive in business. While Microsoft, Google and Apple own extraordinary market caps today, they are no more immune from market instability than any other enterprise. When lights go out, the data they store disappears.

This is the reason why I don't think full cloud implementations will ever happen. You always want to be able to do your work locally if worst comes to the worst.

Nothing beats a hardware solution with a rigorous backup solution to keep one's data and operations safe. As to the "cloud"...... POOOF, its gone!

And Blizzard wants always online for Diablo 3, even for SP? This is a good reason why we should not rely on someone else's connection....

briangw said,
And Blizzard wants always online for Diablo 3, even for SP? This is a good reason why we should not rely on someone else's connection....

There's a big difference between a (potential) business problem and you not being able to play a game.

Blizzard has stated exactly why you will need to be connected to play Diablo, it will make cheating harder.

In 1995 I had to dial a long distance call on my modem to get a 28.8 kbps connection to the internet. Back then applications asked very kindly whenever they wanted to use the internet. Now I'm connected all the time, and it's been a while since any application or service asked about using my connection.

Sure it can be bothersome if the service has a single point of failure and then goes down. Lets just hope it won't.

Flatval said,

There's a big difference between a (potential) business problem and you not being able to play a game.

What if playing the game IS his business? ;-)

Still, you are quite right, but Blizzard really shouldn't be trying to make us all go online in order to play their games. They just don't seem to understand that games pirates will hack the code and their versions won't have to go online whereas a legitimate buyer (who either can't get online, uses mobile broadband and isn't always online, has a broken router, has problems with his ISP or who has no internet connection) is inconvenienced in this way.

Flatval said,

Blizzard has stated exactly why you will need to be connected to play Diablo, it will make cheating harder.

LOL. Blizzard is being a tool, and is playing sleight of hand with their words. This is complete bull. It's to prevent players from cheating in ways that let them not pay out cash. It's all about “The Micro Transaction Store” and monetizing cheating.

This is about generating two new revenue sources. Revenue source one is to generate profit from items being sold in the auction house. Revenue source two is to eventually ban people who take advantage of loopholes in the system, forcing them to re-purchase the game.

Blizzard should have allowed for insecure SinglePlayer/LAN play as before, and secure SinglePlayer/Battle.net only play. But if they allow one, a potential source of revenue no longer exists, because the player could use a trainer to spawn whatever they want.

This will likely lead directly to players paying Blizzard for virtual goods that can't even drop in game. I will not be surprised if this makes some of the best gear so rare that less than 5% of the total player base will ever see it drop, thus inflating how much some people will be willing to pay cash for goods.

If anyone can't tell, I have zero faith in Blizzards motives.

Dashel said,
Still, large datacenters like theirs can guarantee much higher uptime than localized ones.

Exactly. I thought the whole point of the cloud was to move your data to a datacentre that had multiple redundant network connections, multiple power supplies, and several mirrors of your data. Surely outages like this shouldn't happen if the datacentre has been setup correctly?

KingCrimson said,
The cloud will never be good for mission-critical applications!

Yup. That's what I've been saying for a long time. I just don't understand this cloud obsession these days.

PlogCF said,

Yup. That's what I've been saying for a long time. I just don't understand this cloud obsession these days.

The cloud is not the issue, using it for mission critical stuff is not the issue. We have done this for ages before the term "Cloud" came around. No, the issue is ONLY relying on one point, or rather, having a single point of failure. If you use Azure, or you use EC2 or any other service, you must have contingencies for when they are down, you must understand that failures happen, and you must have a way to mitigate the damage they can cause. Same story for personal computers, I would assume that your data is backed up, yes? That you have some secondary method of doing what *must* be done without your computer in the case of failure? Most people have a laptop, tablet or smartphone that they can use while they get the main computer going again, these would never replace the main computer, but (along with the backup) they mitigate the damage.

For hosted solutions like Azure, my full actual stance on them right now is that they are not ready to become your frontline systems. They will in the future, but for now they are best used as a supplement to your own machines

Sraf said,

The cloud is not the issue, using it for mission critical stuff is not the issue. We have done this for ages before the term "Cloud" came around. No, the issue is ONLY relying on one point, or rather, having a single point of failure. If you use Azure, or you use EC2 or any other service, you must have contingencies for when they are down, you must understand that failures happen, and you must have a way to mitigate the damage they can cause. Same story for personal computers, I would assume that your data is backed up, yes? That you have some secondary method of doing what *must* be done without your computer in the case of failure? Most people have a laptop, tablet or smartphone that they can use while they get the main computer going again, these would never replace the main computer, but (along with the backup) they mitigate the damage.

For hosted solutions like Azure, my full actual stance on them right now is that they are not ready to become your frontline systems. They will in the future, but for now they are best used as a supplement to your own machines


+999 Good explanation Sraf

Sraf said,

For hosted solutions like Azure, my full actual stance on them right now is that they are not ready to become your frontline systems. They will in the future, but for now they are best used as a supplement to your own machines

I wanted to add something here, as this seems obvious to some, but too many people get caught in the 'cloud' mentality that leads to failed terminal computing structures.

This was a problem of mainframes, a problem when thin-clients were again shoved in the 90s, and are STILL just as much of a problem with Google Chrome laptops and other thin solutions.


It is also worth mentioning that the view of what 'Sraf' wrote here is also the opinion of Microsoft themselves. Windows Azure and any cloud storage medium should be used to 'augment' your connectivity, not 'require' your connectivity.

Having online storage that you can access from any device or location augments your access to your content, but should never REPLACE it. You should also NEVER be required to be 'connected' to access your content, as you should have local data and local services as your primary mechanism of access and usage.

Microsoft has some really good thin-client and cloud technologies, but they have no intention of demanding people to be connected to gain access to their own personal data or software. Their solutions are 'augments' of being in a connected world, not a requirement.

There are circumstances in enterprise/business environments where centralized storage and services is needed to be a requirement, but these must be in the hands of the company implementing them for reasons of security to the data and access to specialized services; they are not for the average people in a non-business environment.

Even Office 365 and SkyDrive being offline was not a major disruption to its users, as they still had local stores of their email and documents. (SkyDrive non-synced content would be the exception.) But this is why a local copy of Office is required for Office 365
or provided based on your licensing, as the online versions are a nice 'augmented' access point, but not the ONLY access point.

There are other reasons too, to stay well away from the cloud. Not least of which is that to be competitive in the high tech marketplace, a company needs to keep its trade secrets, well, secret, and to control who has access to its Intellectual Property. Putting either of these things on the cloud makes them accessible to American intelligence agencies via the Patriot Act and they can do whatever they wish with what they find - including supplying American competitors with these trade secrets.