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Microsoft Removes Some Azure Restrictions as It Handles COVID-19 Traffic Strains

Microsoft published an update on its Azure cloud business continuity efforts amid traffic strains caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, noting that it had removed some restrictions put in place as cloud use exploded during a huge work-from-home surge.

As Virtualization & Cloud Review reported earlier this month, some delays and outages occurred during the Azure usage surge, causing the company to prioritize computing capacity and limit some free offers and some resources for new subscriptions.

In an update yesterday (April 23) about its business continuity efforts, Microsoft noted Azure had experienced "unprecedented" use of Microsoft Teams. Several news reports had earlier reported problems with the collaboration service, mainly in Europe.

Speaking about those Teams problems, the company yesterday said in its update, "Without knowing the true scale of the new demand, we took a cautious approach and put in place temporary resource limits on new Azure subscriptions."

It then noted those had been lifted as part of several steps taken as it got a handle on the increased traffic, including "Removing restrictions for new free and benefit subscriptions in several regions, so that anyone can learn more about Azure's capabilities and develop new skills."

The company said it also refined Azure demand models, stating, "Our data science models are using what we've learned from this pandemic to better forecast future demands, including adding more support to handle future global events like a pandemic that drives simultaneous demand usage everywhere in the world."

Further actions undertaken by the company as listed in the post include:

  • Optimized and load-balanced the Teams architecture and quickly rolled out these improvements worldwide (using Azure DevOps), without interrupting the customer experience. This work is durable such that we can manage Teams rapid growth moving forward without creating pressure on Azure customers' capacity needs.
  • Expediting additional server capacity to the specific regions that faced constraints, while ensuring the safety and health of our datacenter staff and supply chain partners.
  • Approving the backlog of customer quota requests, which we are rapidly doing every day and are on track to complete over the next few weeks in almost all regions.

The April 23 update was the third post on the company's business continuity efforts, as it had earlier admitted "our communication during this incident was also problematic," in reference to an Azure pipelines slowdown.

However, a couple readers appeared to still be unsatisfied with the company's communication efforts, commenting:

I don't believe what I'm reading. Our businesses continuity were at stake because of Azure not performing. What we get as an update is a marketing story about doctors using Hololens to battle COVID-19? Give me a break. I want to hear numbers, see graphs and have a post mortem about this incident. How is Microsoft going to prevent such incidents in the future, whats the current status. What a joke.

and

This reads like it's been written by a politician. "The impact of the current pandemic is a great example of how cloud computing can rapidly meet new challenges" By shutting out some customers - yes it can.

Do you actually have any timescales on when resources are going to become more available? days? weeks? months? As a CSP this has put a number of projects on hold, with a view to actually moving them to AWS instead. MS have been frustrating to deal with and the lack of actual information and transparency on this has been quite frankly incredible poor.

We can't be the only ones in this position, fed up with the wall of silence and canned responses.

Microsoft concluded the update by stating "We remain committed to operational excellence and we will continue to share what we are learning and doing to support everyone during this time."

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.

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