Microsoft's Azure cloud service goes dark

Forget the computer problems promised but so far undelivered with popular dates, such as Y2K or the upcoming (and regularly ridiculed) end of the world Dec. 21, 2012. It seems that this Feb. 29, or Leap Day 2012, may have actually been the real deal, possibly causing Microsoft's Windows Azure cloud platform to go dark. Though that is purely speculation at this point.

Either way, the cloud service is still in the process of recovering after a lengthy outage that affected multiple countries took it offline Leap Day.

According to Microsoft's Windows Azure Service Dashboard, Azure Service Management has been down worldwide since the evening of Feb. 28.

"We are experiencing an issue with Windows Azure service management. Customers will not be able to carry out service management operations," Microsoft said at the time.

In subsequent updates, Microsoft said the cause of the outage was a "a cert issue triggered on 2/29/2012 GMT," which website Data Center Knowledge speculated could be a "date-related glitch with a security certificate triggered by the onset of the Feb. 29th 'Leap Day' which occurs once every four years."

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Microsoft said the issue affected fewer than 3.8 percent of hosted services and that "there is no impact on storage accounts."

Microsoft began rolling out a hotfix early on the morning of Feb. 29. At 5:30 a.m. PST, Microsoft reported, "The issue is mitigated and service management is restored for the majority of customers. We still need to work through some issues before we can completely restore service management."

Some customers in Europe and the United States continued to have Service Management problems throughout the morning. As of 11:30 a.m. PST, the time of the last Dashboard update, Microsoft said it is still "actively recovering Windows Azure hosted services in the North Central US, South Central US and North Europe sub-regions. More and more customers applications should be back up-and-running even if service management functionality is not yet restored."

The company also reported Feb. 29 ongoing performance degradation problems with the Azure Compute service in parts of the United States and in Northern Europe. According to the Dashboard, this problem began around 2:55 a.m. PST and resulted in some hosted services in those areas not receiving incoming traffic.

"This incident impacts Access Control 2.0, Marketplace, Service Bus and the Access Control & Caching Portal in the same regions where Windows Azure Compute is impacted," Microsoft reported. "As a result affected customers may experience a loss of application functionality."

Additionally, Microsoft said the Azure Compute problem prevented some U.S. customers from logging into the Azure Marketplace or signing on to OAuth.

By mid-day Feb. 29, Microsoft says it had recovered more than half of the hosted services affected by the Azure Compute issue, but as of 2:30 p.m. PST, "recovery efforts are still underway."

Besides the services already mentioned, other Azure services remain "unavailable" for some customers as of this writing:

  • SQL Azure Data Sync for parts of Asia, the United States and Europe has been down since Feb. 28, 12:00 a.m. PST.
  • SQL Azure Reporting for parts of Europe has been down since Feb. 28, 12:00 a.m. PST.

Microsoft said it is troubleshooting both problems. "Further updates will be published to keep you apprised of the situation. We apologize for any inconvenience this causes our customers."


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