Microsoft Azure Outage Knocks Out Websites and Xbox Live

Microsoft began reporting a cloud services outage on its status page around 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

Cheryl Kemp

November 19, 2014

3 Min Read
Microsoft Azure Outage Knocks Out Websites and Xbox Live



This article originally appeared at The WHIR

Microsoft began reporting a cloud services outage on its status page around 5 pm Pacific time on Tuesday.

“Our investigation of the alert is complete and we have determined the service is healthy,” a cloud services multiple regions advisory statement said. “A service incident did not occur for Cloud Services in multiple regions.”

However, this was quickly followed by reports of partial performance degradations with traffic manager and multiple region service interruptions for Azure services as users began reporting more problems on Wednesday. Azure acknowledged having problems on its Twitter account at 6:30 pm on Tuesday. The Twitter account reported the outage was resolved by 10:56 pm, yet its status page continued to report problems hours after.

Thousands of sites using Azure as a web host were down for hours including Microsoft’s own and Windows Store. There was also a storage outage in Western Europe. The Azure status pages says customers affected can get more information thought the management portal.

Azure had other outages this year including several in August which coincided with the release of new Office 365 features. Azure was also experiencing an outage when promoting the online gaming features of Xbox One launched in November last year.

This outage coincided with Office 365 and Xbox announcements as well. The Minecraft: Xbox One Edition was released on Tuesday for the holiday season. Minecraft was running on IBM SoftLayer infrastructure but was purchased by Microsoft in September for $2.5 billion dollars in an effort to lure a younger crowd to its products. Microsoft also announced the new video feature of Office 365 on Tuesday.

Xbox Live users were offline for the second time this month, Xbox Live runs on Azure. According to a report by TheNextWeb, the Xbox Live support page said earlier that “‘social and gaming are limited’ and that a number of functions including matchmaking, party and chat are currently unavailable.”

The Xbox support Twitter account, “Guinness World Record Holder: Most Responsive Brand on Twitter,” only had two tweets during the time of the outage. One acknowledged the problem and one reporting that it was fixed. Support was responding to user complaint tweets.

With competing services such as Amazon, Google and Centurylink cutting prices, Azure needs to stay on its toes. Several industry experts believe that cloud prices have reached a point where they are simply a commodity.

It’s important for providers hoping to survive in the increasingly competitive cloud space to compete on service. Outages may be inevitable but certainly don’t help the case for customers looking for the most reliable service provider.

For example, the BBC reported the outage as “hugely disruptive” to customers. Not only did it affect some of Microsoft’s large customers such as Toyota, Boeing and eBay, but also affected smaller customers such as Surrey-based company SocialSafe.

“It’s hugely disruptive. There’s obviously an adverse impact when your whole website goes down – that’s where people expect to download and access our service,” SocialSafe’s founder Julian Ranger told the BBC.

“We switched to Azure because the previous provider did occasionally have outages and obviously you want your site and the supporting software, which is hosted on servers behind it, to always be operating. The point about Azure was that they guarantee that your site will always be up because there are multiple places, effectively, where your software can run. If there’s one problem, it should happily switch to run elsewhere,” Ranger said. “And that’s just not happening today – we’re completely out.”

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