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MS' Azure cloud service suffers eleven hours of downtime

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February 18, 2016

It's widely reported in the blogosphere today that Microsoft's Azure cloud service has suffered a long eleven hours of downtime.

And to make matters worse, the company was unable to find virtual machines recently added to its backup service.

As Microsoft's status page records, from “04:40 to 17:36 UTC Feb 17, 2016, customers using Azure Backup Service might be unable to discover newly added IaaS Virtual Machines within their old Backup Vaults, created before Feb. 7th when performing explicit discovery operation.”

Understandably, this were long and very painful 11 hours of downtime for system admins who'd bought into the “Cloud operators are so colossal and careful the chances of data disappearing are very small” argument.

The good news is that the data never went anywhere (at least that's what Microsoft says). The company says “A recent upgrade modified a line of code with a wrong value resulting in discovery failures for existing backup vaults that didn't exist.”

Once the software glitch was well understood, Azure system administrators “Updated the property to the correct value which made the discoveries successful.”

Microsoft now promises to “Review the service update logic and implement various checks to prevent this from reoccurring.”

The incident is one of many more in which small operational and configuration errors take down huge clouds affecting hundreds of thousands of users.

For instance, Google endured a 21-hour service outage after a case-sensitive variable name was incorrectly entered and has also experienced an additional hours-long outage caused by forgetting to apply a patch to all its servers.

Often, the issue isn't the technology, it's the human in front of the keyboard that causes the problems. And even the world's largest operators haven't yet figured out how to completely prevent that problem.

Source: Microsoft.

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