Microsoft Bing Travel Back Online After Fire

 
 
By Nicholas Kolakowski  |  Posted 2009-07-06 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Microsoft Bing's travel site was knocked out at the beginning of the holiday weekend by an electrical fire at a Seattle-area data center. No other portions of Bing were affected. In June, the search engine made incremental gains in the market against ultra-competitors Yahoo and Google, as Microsoft continued to support it with a massive ad campaign.

Microsoft Bing is fully running again after a July 2 fire at a Seattle data center that took down the Travel portion of the search engine.

The electrical fire, whose cause is under investigation but has not yet been determined, started "in a garage-level electrical room," according to facility owner Fisher Communications, and "disrupted power to Fisher Plaza East and knocked out the facility's backup generation system."

In addition to knocking out the servers that ran Microsoft Bing's Travel site, the fire also took down other Websites including Authorize.net, an e-commerce site that provides merchants with credit card services.   

Authorize.net released a statement on July 6 detailing the lessons learned from the incident.

"We are examining all aspects of this outage and implementing steps to mitigate future risks," the company said. "Over the next weeks, we will be completing the work to ensure that we have two fully functional, synchronized hot sites. Failing over from one to the other will occur in a matter of seconds."

In addition to operating the Fisher Plaza data center facility, Fisher Communications owns and operates 20 television stations and eight radio stations in the western United States.

Following the disruption, Microsoft posted a message stating it was "isolated to Bing Travel only, and there has been no impact to any other aspects of Bing." Until service was restored, the company suggested, users could venture over to Microsoft partner Orbitz to fulfill their travel needs.

Microsoft had been in the midst of porting Bing to the cloud.

"As part of the continued integration of Farecast (the company) into Microsoft, we have been (prior to this weekend's incident) hard at work moving Bing Travel to the Microsoft Cloud Computing Platform," a Microsoft spokesperson told eWEEK. "But again, given the complexity of this service and our desire to do this in a way that is invisible to customers, this process takes time and must be done carefully. We expect to have the move completed by early fall."

Service was restored by the morning of July 4.

A July 1 report by StatCounter found that Bing had gained 8.23 percent of the U.S. Web search market in June, powered by a massive advertising campaign and considerable news coverage. In the weeks previous to Bing's June 3 launch, Microsoft's share of the search engine market had hovered at 7.86 percent.

StatCounter bases its numbers of 4 billion page loads per month, as monitored through a network of Websites. Its same report found that Google dipped from 78.72 percent to 78.48 percent in June, positioning it comfortably ahead of both Yahoo and Microsoft.  

If Bing's numbers hold, they could represent a turning of fortune for Microsoft in the search-engine arena. A June 16 report by research firm Nielsen had found that Microsoft's share of that market had dropped 14.6 percent year-over-year by May 2009, suggesting that the company was losing ground against Google and Yahoo even as it continued to fund what was then known as Microsoft Live Search.

Editor's Note: This article has been updated with a comment from Microsoft.

 
 
 
 
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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