Microsoft to provide credit to customers after Windows Azure outage

Microsoft will reimburse customers affected by the Windows Azure outage caused by an expired SSL certificate

Microsoft’s cloud service Windows Azure experienced a major outage on 23 February because of an expired SSL certificate, forcing the supplier to reimburse affected customers.

The outage affected as many as 52 different Microsoft services, including Xbox Live, for up to 24 hours.

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is a primary tool in protecting sensitive operations with web servers. Many IT and security professionals rely on SSL certificates to provide secure interactions with their organisation's web applications. 

An expired SSL certificate caused Azure’s storage service to experience a worldwide outage affecting HTTPS traffic. While HTTP traffic was not affected, the outage had an impact on a number of Windows Azure services that depend on the cloud storage service.

“We executed the repair steps to update the SSL certificate on the impacted clusters and availability was restored to over 99% worldwide by 1am PST on February 23,” said Steven Martin, general manager, Windows Azure business and operations at Microsoft on the company’s official blog.

At 8pm PST on 23 February, the Azure team completed the restoration effort and confirmed full availability worldwide, he said.

“Given the scope of the outage, we will proactively provide credits to impacted customers in accordance with our SLA [service level agreements]. The credit will be reflected on a subsequent invoice,” Martin said.

“We sincerely apologise for the interruption and any issues it has caused."

Microsoft is currently doing a root cause analysis (RCA) including steps to help prevent any future reoccurrence. Martin promised to share the RCA once it is available.

Around the same time last year, the Azure cloud experienced an outage affecting customers worldwide including the UK government’s newly released CloudStore. The company blamed “certificate issues” at that time too.

More recently Amazon#s AWS cloud experienced an outage over the Christmas break affecting video-streaming service Netflix.

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