Microsoft Azure failure puts websites offline

Websites have been sent crashing as a result of problems with Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing platform

Websites have been sent crashing as a result of problems with Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing platform.

The problems began in the early hours of Wednesday (19 November 2014) when access to Microsoft's Office 365 apps and Xbox Live gaming were affected.

A Microsoft spokesperson said the company is looking into the problems: “Microsoft is investigating an issue affecting access to some Microsoft services. We are working to restore full access to these services as quickly as possible.”

Fears over using the cloud for business-critical IT has always been a major concern for large enterprises, however this is reducing as cloud matures. A study of 300 IT and business decision-makers from analyst firm Forrester revealed 81%, are either already running business-critical apps in the cloud or plan on doing so in the next two years.

This type of incident could set planning back. In 2011, Amazon and Microsoft's European cloud services were down for a weekend after a lightning strike caused power failures at their datacentres in Dublin.

The lightning strike took out the main power supply and affected part of the phase-control system that synchronises the backup generator plant, causing a disruption to the service of Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) cloud computing platform for the second time that year, as well as affecting Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS).

Businesses still concerned over cloud

Paul Hinton, commercial technology partner at law firm Kemp Little, said big businesses are still very concerned about incidents like this. 

"Any serious IT team using cloud will not use it for important information, unless it has backup protections for the data, which can undermine the business case for cost reduction by using cloud," he said. 

“In the past, terms from the large cloud providers did not take liability for this type of things, or took very little.”

But he said as more large companies start using the cloud, suppliers are having to offer more legal guarantees. However, large companies are now negoitiating better terms around this.

Smaller businesses probably have to make do with standard terms, but big businesses can negotiate, added Hinton. Their negotiating position is stronger because there is competition in the sector, with the likes of Microsoft, Amazon and even Google battling for business.

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