In late December, Microsoft's Windows Azure cloud service suffered a partial outage that affected one server cluster in the south central portion of the US for a few days. On Friday, the service got hit with a far more serious outage that is still being dealt with by Microsoft.
The Windows Azure status page reveals that the problems began around 3:44 pm Eastern time and were due to an expired HTTPS certificate. Unlike the outage in late December, this issue hit all of the Windows Azure server clusters worldwide. It has affected other Microsoft services as well, including Office 365 and the cloud-based save games on Xbox Live.
Microsoft's status page said that HTTP traffic to the servers was not affected by the issue. It added:
We executed repair steps to update the SSL certificate and expect HTTPS traffic to notice gradual recovery in many sub-regions. Further updates will be published to keep you apprised of the situation. We apologize for any inconvenience this causes our customers.
This new outage comes, ironically, a few days after the independent research Nasumi said that Windows Azure was the best cloud service currently available in 2013, over rivals such as Amazon Web Services, Google and others.
UPDATE: The certificate has been renewed, and service has been restored. Here's the official announcement from the Azure page:
On Friday, February 22 at 12:44 PM PST, Storage experienced a worldwide outage impacting HTTPS traffic due to an expired SSL certificate. This did not impact HTTP traffic. We have executed repair steps to update SSL certificate on the impacted clusters and have recovered to over 99% availability across all sub-regions. We will continue monitoring the health of the Storage service and SSL traffic for the next 24 hrs. Customers may experience intermittent failures during this period. We apologize for any inconvenience this causes our customers.
Source: Windows Azure status page | Image via Microsoft