RealTime IT News

Windows Azure Suffers Some Dark Spots

Microsoft confirmed that its Windows Azure cloud computing platform was down for as long as 22 hours over the weekend, but said now that everything is running normally.

According to posts on Microsoft's Windows Azure community forum, the service became spotty about 10:30 p.m. Pacific time on Friday night and continued throughout most of Saturday.

"Windows Azure is currently experiencing an outage," Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) forum moderator Steve Marx said in his initial alert on Saturday morning. "We are investigating but do not yet have an ETA for a resolution. A large number of deployments are currently offline, and are slow to restart."

Developers testing their code on Microsoft's Azure services -- which are currently in a pre-release status -- received error messages informing them that their applications were "unreachable or in 'stopped' or 'initializing' states for long periods of time," Marx wrote.

By mid-afternoon Saturday, troubleshooters had identified the problem and embarked on a recovery process that took five hours.

With Azure meant to serve as the heart of the company's cloud computing platform, it's unclear what sort of implications the downtime will have for Microsoft.

Ray Ozzie, Microsoft's chief software architect, introduced Windows Azure at Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in Los Angeles last October, signaling an effort by the software giant to place its stamp on the emerging -- and potentially lucrative -- field of cloud-based services.

Azure aims to provide all of the underlying operating system functions, applications programming interfaces and system management, transparently, inside its computing cloud, which is programmable via .NET.

Microsoft began a community technology preview, or CTP, of the service at the PDC.

While Azure is back up, however, there are plenty of questions to be answered as to why the outage occurred -- and whether design changes are required.

"They've identified and verified a recovery process and Windows Azure is now running normally. They are completing a root cause analysis and will share additional details soon," a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement to InternetNews.com.

Microsoft is also expected to give more details regarding the evolution of Azure at this week's MIX09 Conference, which begins Wednesday in Las Vegas.