Microsoft Windows Azure Downtime Blamed on Leap Year Bug

Microsoft has offered an explanation for the Windows Azure service disruption that affected a subset of users: a software bug.

Microsoft has offered an explanation for the Windows Azure service disruption that plagued some users Feb. 28: The Leap Year did it.

€œThe issue was quickly triaged, and it was determined to be caused by a software bug,€ Bill Laing, corporate vice president of Microsoft€™s Server and Cloud, wrote in a Feb. 29 posting on the Windows Azure Team Blog. €œWhile final root-cause analysis is in progress, this issue appears to be due to a time calculation that was incorrect for the leap year.€

Following that diagnosis, Windows Azure engineers created a workaround, while still dealing with issues affecting some sub-regions and customers. According to the Windows Azure Service Dashboard, virtually all regions were up and running by March 1, with the exception of an alert for the Windows Azure Compute in the South-Central U.S. region; that alert, posted the morning of Feb. 29, suggested some issue with incoming traffic.

Windows Azure is a major pillar of Microsoft€™s increasingly robust cloud efforts. In addition to selling big companies on cloud-based services such as Azure and Office 365, Microsoft has also turned its attention to smaller concerns: recently, it announced a partnership with TechStars to offer $60,000 in cloud services to startups.

€œTech startups around the world are building products and services in the cloud,€ Himanshu Singh, a senior product manager on the Windows Azure marketing team, wrote in a Jan. 30 corporate blog posting. €œCloud applications and smart devices are driving the new startup ecosystem, affording startups the ability to drive user adoption, scale their company and generate financial returns with far less capital at a faster pace than ever before.€

Microsoft also recently announced a series of updates to Windows Azure designed to help developers build on the platform, including new open-source capabilities, SQL Azure database enhancements and a streamlined billing and management system. On top of that, Microsoft pushed out a significant update to the Windows Azure Plug-In for Eclipse with Java, in addition to support for other open-source platforms, including MongoDB, Memcached, Apache Soir and Lucene.

All cloud services inevitably experience some downtime. So far, that hasn€™t dissuaded a healthy percentage of businesses from at least considering the cloud for their productivity efforts.

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