Network Glitch Takes Down Microsoft's Azure IaaS, PaaS Services For Central U.S. Customers

Two of Microsoft's Azure public cloud services went down for more than two hours Monday for customers in the central U.S., due to what the software giant described as a "network infrastructure issue."

The outage, which began just after 1 p.m. Central time, affected customers of Microsoft's Azure Virtual Machines (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) and Azure Cloud Services (Platform-as-a-Service) offerings, the Redmond, Wash.-based vendor said in a bulletin on its its Azure Status webpage.

Microsoft described the issue as a "partial service interruption" and said the service had been restored to full availability as of 3:19 CT. Microsoft didn't indicate how many customers were affected by the issue.

[Related: VMware Tells Salespeople vSphere VMs Running On Azure Is A Pipe Dream]

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In a separate bulletin, Microsoft said a "subset of customers" using Azure Active Directory, Access Control, SQL, Websites, HDInsight, Event Hubs, Service Bus, Redis Cache and Stream Analytics "may have encountered errors" as a result of the glitch that affected Virtual Machines and Cloud Services.

Cloud outages are fairly common and most customers and vendor partners believe they're part of the growing pains the cloud industry is going through on the road to becoming a utility.

That said, if you're a Microsoft partner hosting critical infrastructure on Azure, outages can have a real impact on your business.

One Microsoft partner who runs mission-critical servers on Azure told CRN he had four virtual machines go down for more than two hours during Monday's outage. The partner, who said he pays Microsoft around $3,000 per month to host servers on Azure, said the outage threw off his weekly payroll processing and delayed client billing.

The partner said while Microsoft communicated the problem quickly to customers, he's still frustrated about the downtime. Azure's overall performance as of late has left much to be desired, he added.

"Our reliability over the last 90 days running on Azure has been worse than the last 10 years running in-house. I am very disappointed today," said the partner, who requested anonymity to avoid damaging his relationship with Microsoft.

"Recently a subset of Azure customers may have experienced brief difficulties and the problem has now been fully resolved," a Microsoft spokesperson said in an emailed statement on the matter.

Although the outage was confined to the central U.S., it didn't escape the notice of some observers on Twitter.

Azure service outage! Suddenly missing the days when we just ran sites off decrepit old towers underneath my desk.

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Come on , the last thing I want to deal with during an area outage is a slow f$%$% website!

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Microsoft's last global Azure outage came last November when a glitch in a performance took down its cloud storage service for more than 11 hours for some customers. In August, Azure Virtual Machines and Cloud Services suffered a global outage that spanned more than five hours in some cases.

Another Microsoft partner who uses Azure told CRN that the pattern of outages is eroding the fragile trust that some of his customers have for cloud computing. After each incident, he said must spend time reassuring customers and explaining that outages are not unusual at this stage of the cloud market.

"It's very frustrating," the partner told CRN. "We are babies in the cloud future."

Getting more customers and partners using Azure is a huge, companywide effort for Microsoft right now, and it's clearly made significant progress toward this goal.

But until Microsoft can fix the recent pattern of Azure outages, that growth might remain slower than the vendor would like.