Microsoft Recovering From Hotmail, SkyDrive Cloud Outage

Microsoft's Hotmail, SkyDrive and other cloud services crashed on the night of Sept. 8. Services now appear restored.

Microsoft's cloud underwent a significant outage on the night of Sept. 8.

"If you've been trying to use Hotmail, SkyDrive or our other Live properties for the last couple of hours you may have noticed problems accessing our services," Chris Jones, senior vice president for Windows Live, wrote in a posting on The Windows Blog. "We're aware of these issues and actively working to resolve them."

By 11:49 PT, he provided an update to his posting: "We have completed propagating our DNS [Domain Name System] configuration changes around the world, and have restored service for most customers."

As of press time, Microsoft has not responded toeWEEK's request for an update. The outage seems to have affected customers worldwide.

This is the second significant outage for Microsoft's cloud services in the past few weeks. In August, Office 365 and Microsoft CRM users were hit with downtime that a company spokesperson attributed to a "networking issue" at "one of our North American data centers." The Office 365 suite bundles online versions of Microsoft's productivity software onto a common platform.

In that earlier case, service also ended up fully restored. However, customers wrestling with a lack of email and CRM voiced their displeasure on Twitter and the Web at large. "Office in the Cloud just evaporated," read one post on an Office 365 forum. "Need some new weather patterns."

The occasional cloud downtime isn't limited to Microsoft. In April, a well-publicized outage at Amazon Web Services led to service disruptions across the Internet, affecting popular Websites such as Reddit, Quora and Hootsuite. Google lost some user email data in February, after which it launched an aggressive effort at restoration.

This industry-wide drift toward online services prodded Microsoft into embracing an "all-in" cloud strategy, which the company hopes will allow it to diversify its revenue stream beyond desktop software. In theory, the cloud-based subscription model will ultimately yield more revenue than a single software license, provided the customers in question keep paying over a sustained period of time.

Microsoft is also pushing hybridized solutions that mix cloud services with more traditional on-premises features. On Sept. 8, Microsoft released Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012, its enterprise resource planning application with integrated cloud offerings-in particular, the Rapid Start, Payment and Commerce services available via Windows Azure.

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