Sometimes, Microsoft can make great programs, Windows 2008 R2 and Windows 7 SP1. And, sometimes they can blow it, Vista and, from what I’ve seen so far, Windows 8. But every now and again Microsoft fouls up in such a spectacular fashion that I’m left to wonder how anyone can use them for mission-critical work. There was the London Stock Exchange failure, which is one reason why almost all the world’s leading stock exchanges now use Linux. Microsoft’s Azure cloud collapse may prove to be a similar turning-point for Microsoft’s cloud service.
In case you missed it, on the same day Microsoft fans were slapping themselves on the back for Windows 8 Consumer Preview getting out the door, Microsoft’s Windows Azure Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) cloud suffered a worldwide meltdown. For almost 36-hours, Windows Azure Service Management was down.
Even after Microsoft had a fix in, faults continued to spread across the Azure cloud in America and Northern Europe. As some areas came back up Compute functionality in the North Central US, South Central US and North Europe regions, functionality was downgraded or even turned off on a range of Azure services.
What caused Azure to fall down and go boom? Microsoft hasn’t really spelled out what happened yet but, according to Bill Laing, Microsoft’s Corporate VP of Server and Cloud, “Yesterday, February 28th, 2012 at 5:45 PM PST Windows Azure operations became aware of an issue impacting the compute service in a number of regions. The issue was quickly triaged and it was determined to be caused by a software bug. While final root cause analysis is in progress, this issue appears to be due to a time calculation that was incorrect for the leap year.”