Datacenter Fire Grounds Bing’s Travel Site

Everything seems to be getting back to normal after a fire in a Seattle datacenter last week knocked out power to racks of servers that support Microsoft’s new Bing Travel search site and a number of other Web sites.

The problem began just before midnight on July 2, according to a statement by the datacenter site’s owner, Fisher Communications, which also operates 20 television stations and eight radio stations in the western U.S.

“Last night at approximately 11:10 pm, an incident in a garage-level electrical room disrupted power to Fisher Plaza East and knocked out the facility’s backup generation system,” Fisher said in a statement Friday. The electrical room is where Fisher Plaza East receives its power from Seattle City Light.

Besides Bing Travel, the outage affected a slew of Web sites, including the one for Fisher’s local ABC affiliate,, as well as other online businesses like payment gateway services firm

Service to Bing Travel had been restored by the morning of July 4, according to reports.

“It takes a bit of time after an interruption of power such as this one to bring it back online. Given power was restored at 2 a.m. Saturday, we feel we had the service back up as quickly as was possible,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in an e-mail to

The outage marks an early blemish for Bing Travel, one of four areas of expertise that Microsoft is focusing on in the first iteration of its Bing search engine, which launched last month.

So why was Bing Travel affected while other Bing search services were not? Bing Travel grew out of Microsoft’s purchase of travel site Farecast in 2008. Though it has been renamed, the travel site is still hosted in its original home in the Fisher datacenter.

That is changing, however.

“As part of the continued integration of Farecast into Microsoft, we have been (prior to this weekend’s incident) hard at work moving Bing Travel to the Microsoft Cloud Computing Platform … But this process takes time and must be done carefully,” the spokesperson said.

Microsoft is pushing to complete the transition by early Fall.

Although the outage was not Microsoft’s fault, it remains to be seen whether the fire and the outage will tarnish Bing Travel’s image, coming as it did during a busy holiday weekend. Bing has already had its share of early bumps.

Still, Bing has also proven popular since it debuted in an effort by Microsoft to challenge No. 2 search player Yahoo and the space’s leader, Google.

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