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Microsoft Azure suffered more downtime than its main rivals in 2014, with almost 54 hours of downtime for its two main services, according to detailed analysis.
Azure Object Storage was down for 10.89 hours and Azure Virtual Machines experienced 42.94 hours of downtime globally in 2014. Azure had 241 outages in total.
In comparison, the analysis from CloudHarmony showed Amazon Web Services (AWS) experienced fewer than five hours downtime in total for its storage services – Elastic Cloud Computing (EC2) and Simple Storage Service (S3) – with 35 outages.
Google’s cloud storage was down for less than 15 minutes in 2014 and its cloud computing platform suffered just under four hours offline. SoftLayer – now part of IBM – had a total of 11 outages with just under 15 mintes downtime for its storage service.
In Europe, AWS EC2 was down for 19 seconds and S3 was down for little more than two minutes. Google experienced no downtime for its cloud storage in Europe but its cloud computing services were down for 2.22 hours.
Microsoft Azure suffered the most downtime in Europe, with 5.97 hours for its cloud compute service and 1.31 hours for its storage service.
As prices tumble and more businesses put their IT in public clouds, the continuity of services will increasingly come under the spotlight.
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Commercial technology partner at law firm Kemp Little, Paul Hinton, said as more large companies start using the cloud, suppliers are having to offer more legal guarantees. However, large companies are now negotiating better terms around 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.
According to an RBC Capital report, AWS's price per GB Ram was $42 in October 2013 and fell to $25 in December 2014.
In the same period, Google’s price dropped from $52 per GB Ram to $32; IBM SoftLayer reduced its price from $55 to $32; and Microsoft Azure fell from $46 to $34.
In November 2014, Microsoft Azure's storage service suffered a massive outage that sent websites crashing.
Microsoft admitted this was because a process to deploy updates progressively and in small manageable chunks was not followed.
The process, known as flighting, is used to run health checks as the update is deployed.
Microsoft corporate vice-president Jason Zander said: "The standard flighting deployment policy of incrementally deploying changes across small slices was not followed."
Natural disaters have also caused major cloud outages at the large suppliers. 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 EC2 cloud computing platform for the second time that year, as well as affecting Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite.