Microsoft has issues with its main cloud service in Europe
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May 1, 2014
System admins in Microsoft's cloud data centre for Western Europe have spent the morning battling severe issues with the server equipment
that supports the company's main cloud service.
Problems with the core Compute and Storage components were first reported at 9:39 am this morning, according to the Windows
Azure Status Dashboard, when Microsoft said it had received an alert for SQL Databases, Compute and Storage in West Europe.
Microsoft later admitted that the issues meant that customers could "experience issues accessing services". It described the
Compute problems as a "Partial Service Interruption Limited Impact", which is a Microsoft euphemism for a fraction of its technology
not working correctly.
Storage was termed a "Partial Service Interruption" and not given a qualifier, so it's likely that more customers were hit by the
As Compute, Storage, and SQL Databases are fundamental building blocks for any cloud infrastructure, this is a severe problem.
As of 2:54 pm Microsoft said it had "partially restored the services and continue to see improvements to Storage availability".
It indicated that the Compute services were mostly fixed, noting that-- "We have confirmed recovery for Compute availability. A very
small subset of IaaS Virtual Machines may be affected. We are validating the restoration steps."
In other IT news
The U of T has criticised Canada's Internet Service Providers for unnecessarily routing user traffic via
the United States, even when both the origin and destination of the traffic is within Canada.
In a study that mirrors European concerns about why traffic should traverse the U.S. when it doesn't need to, the Canadian transparency
study blames an unwillingness to peer for sending traffic into the reach of the NSA.
The University of Toronto's Andrew Clement and Jonathan Obar have put together the report along with an interactive map, in which they rate
Canadian ISPs on various transparency characteristics.
The ratings, the report says, are based on how easily users can find information including an ISP's compliance with data privacy
legislation, how they report data access requests, how well they define personal information, information about where user data is stored,
Against the 10 criteria used in the assessment, nobody scored highly-- the best was Teksavvy, scoring just 3.5 stars out of a potential ten,
followed by Primus on just three stars.
None of the ISPs tested provide transparency reporting, and the researchers say none of the 20 carriers they examined are in full
compliance with Canada's PIPEDA (Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act) privacy law.
About routing, the report states-- “Fewer than half of the ISP privacy policies refer to the location and jurisdiction for the information they
store. Only one (Hurricane) gives an indication of where it routes customer data and none make explicit that they may route data via the
US where it is subject to NSA surveillance”.
“Boomerang” routing – where data leaves Canada, traverses US networks (who might choose to ignore PIPEDA) and returns to Canada – accounts
for as much as 25 percent of all internet traffic, the report states.
It also claims that traffic traversing the US is “almost certainly subject to NSA surveillance”. The key reason is peering, a discussion
that will resonate with smaller ISPs around the world. If an ISP is unable to peer its traffic within Canada's TorIX (Toronto Internet Exchange)
or OttIX (Ottawa), it may need to send data upstream through its transit provider to reach its destination.
In other IT news
Former BSD and Unix server enterprise customers are continuing their march towards Linux and for some there's no looking back. However,
that hasn't stopped Oracle from continuing its own development of Solaris Unix, but at a slower pace than before.
Yesterday, Oracle staged an event in New York to announce the launch of Solaris version 11.2, which is only the second point release
of the former Sun Microsystems product since Solaris 11 shipped in November 2011, the last being in 2012.
However, even though the operating system is only getting a minor version-number increase, that doesn't mean it doesn't include
significant updates, according to Solaris product director Larry Wake.
Oracle says the new update shouldn't break any existing Unix systems. "In fact, what the dot really means is that we've incorporated
some noteworthy changes in such a manner that we're not leaving anything, or anyone behind," Wake said.
"This is Oracle Solaris 11, only more so. The reason that it's a dot is that there are no concerns for existing version 11 end users
and developers about how to integrate this into their environments," he added.
At the 2011 launch, Oracle trumpeted Solaris 11 as "the first cloud OS," and predictably it's continuing that theme with the new
But most of the new features do have a cloudy texture, even if Oracle's increasingly niche OS is more likely to be deployed on
private clouds than public ones.
But most significantly, Solaris 11.2 now comes bundled with a complete OpenStack distribution. Oracle joined the OpenStack
bandwagon in December and said at the time that it planned to integrate support for the open source cloud technology across multiple products,
including Solaris and Oracle Linux.
With OpenStack support for Solaris, enterprise customers will now be able to manage their Solaris virtual machines from the
same OpenStack dashboard as their KVMs and ESX instances.
And to sweeten things a bit, the release also bundles the popular Puppet IT automation software to help speed provisioning, configuration,
software management and other repetitive tasks.
Also new are Unified Archives, a new form of backup and archiving software that allows system admins to clone their entire environments
for disaster recovery or quick provisioning in the cloud.
To demonstrate the new technology, Oracle has provided a Unified Archive for OpenStack that makes it possible to spin up a single
node of Solaris OpenStack system in a matter of minutes, Oracle claims.
Additionally, a new application-driven software defined networking feature (SDN) allows applications to prioritize their own traffic via networking
flows that can be used to specify service level agreements (SLAs) within the data center.
There have also been numerous virtualization improvements, including the ability to dynamically reconfigure Solaris Zones without
a reboot and support for automated Zone renaming.
And new Kernel Zones can run different kernel versions from the global zone and can be patched without requiring a reboot of the
For a detailed breakdown of all the new features in Solaris 11.2, you can check the formal release notes on Oracle's site.
You can also download the operating system and try it out for yourself, but so far it's only in beta. Oracle says to expect the final
release to ship sometime in the summer.
In other IT news
HP is trying to keep its dwindling server market share from lower cost Asian makers that are eating into its own shipments by
inking a deal with China's Foxconn in an effort to reduce the cost of lower-end servers. HP had been mulling the decision for several
When it comes to the Cloud, the so-called 'white box' server market is still a rapidly growing market, according market research
But besides Foxconn, there are a lot of other lower cost server makers in Asia, including offerings from Quanta Computer, Wistron,
Inventec and Compal Electronics, among others.
Those Chinese and Taiwanese hardware-builders account for single-digit percentage market revenues and are still overshadowed by HP itself, Dell
However, they are still considered to be forces to be dealt with in the United States, producing servers for big names including Google,
Amazon, Sun Hosting, Rackspace and Facebook.
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