Azure says service is running fine, but is adding capacity anyway…

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Microsoft has said it is adding capacity to its Azure platform over the coming weeks to deal with surging demand as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, but has insisted its systems have not seen any service disruptions as the world plus its dog has switched to home working.

However, the claim has raised eyebrows amongst users who said they faced serious problems last week, which were not reflected in the platform’s status page.

The blogpost yesterday said that Microsoft’s “top priority remains support for critical health and safety organizations and ensuring remote workers stay up and running with the core functionality of Teams”.

As well as being used by such frontline workers, the collaboration platform is also something of a default for schookids and students, as well as their teachers, who are currently studying at home.

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Microsoft noted a “very significant spike in Teams usage” to more than 44 million daily users, while Windows Virtual Desktop usage has grown more than three times, and overall cloud usage in “regions that have enforced social distancing or shelter in place orders” is up 775 per cent.

When you see those numbers, you might think “something’s got to give, surely?” Well, it depends who you’re asking. 

Microsoft said it was “implementing a few temporary restrictions designed to balance the best possible experience for all of our customers” with “limits on free offers to prioritize capacity for existing customers” and limits on “certain resources” for new subscriptions.

Nonetheless, it insisted that “we have not had any significant service discussions” though it is “observing deployments for some computer resource types [in certain regions] drop below our typical 99.99 per cent success rates.” Impacted customers are notified through the “Service Health experience in the Azure portal”, it said.

In the meantime, it was adding “significant new capacity”, and was encouraging customers to consider “alternative regions or alternative resource types”.

However, comments on the post called for Microsoft to be more upfront about problems. One of the bugbears with last week’s issues was that problems users were experiencing were not reflected on Azure’s status page.

“Just something from MS to say “yes, customers have faced issues, we acknowledge this and are working to resolve it”, and even just a note on the Azure Status page (which is still where most people will go first) to the same effect would go a long way,” said one.

Others said they had been put in a tricky situation having recommended Azure to clients, who were now asking whether it made sense to migrate to AWS.

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