Apologies Issued For Microsoft Windows Azure, Google Talk Outages

The Windows Azure cloud computing service went down in Western Europe for about 2.5 hours Thursday, from 6:09 a.m. EST to 8:33 p.m. EST, when Microsoft restored operations. The company said customers' storage accounts were not impacted during the outage.

Microsoft posted several status reports on its Azure service dashboard while attempts were made to resolve the problem.

On Friday afternoon, the company issued an apology, saying the incident was caused by a “misconfigured network device.”

"The interruption impacted our Compute Service and resulted in connectivity issues from some of our customers in the sub-region," Mike Neil, general manager of Windows Azure wrote in a Windows Azure blog.

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“The service interruption was triggered by a misconfigured network device that disrupted traffic to one cluster in our West Europe sub-region," he wrote. " Once a set device limit for external connections was reached, it triggered previously unknown issues in another network device within that cluster, which further complicated network management and recovery."

Azure’s Western region is run by data centers in Dublin, Ireland, and Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

[Related: The 10 Biggest Cloud Outages Of 2011 ]

Neil said Microsoft is continuing to investigate and will publish a report next week. Azure customers who lost service in the outage should contact Azure support to seek a credit, the company said.

In Google’s case, a disruption in Google Talk, a chat service used by Google Gmail customers, took the service down from 3:40 a.m., PST, to 8:25 a.m. PST, when it was fully restored.

Google’s Talk Service dashboard kept customers updated throughout the outage, and Google apologized when the service was restored, saying in part: “Please rest assured that system reliability is a top priority at Google, and we are making continuous improvements to make our systems better.”

Google did not respond Friday to a request for a comment.

Kevin Lalor, CEO of Google partner and solutions provider Business Intelligence 101, of Livermore, Calif., said Friday the overnight Talk outage hadn’t affected his business. He also defended the service levels of cloud providers in general.

“None of this stuff is 100 percent foolproof,” Lalor said. “But I think the availability of all these providers in the cloud is much more reliable than on-premise solutions. Servers are going down in these companies [with on-premise data centers] all over the place.”

Nonetheless, cloud services have been hit by several outages this year.

In mid-June an Amazon Web Services power outage cut services to customers for about six hours.

And in late February, Azure suffered an extensive, worldwide outage that lasted about nine hours.

These cloud service disruption followed several from the year before.