A peacful night in O365 land

Subject: General Tech | November 14, 2013 - 01:23 PM |
Tagged: running gag, microsoft, azure, cloud, office 365

Microsoft's Azure and its applications such as Office 365 are quickly gaining a reputation and it is not a very good one.  On November 11th Azure suffered an outage on some of its services across the entire planet and last night saw the Lync and email servers die.  That doesn't seem to have stopped companies from adopting the service, though perhaps that is more a decision being made by beancounters than it is by people who understand what is meant by "that is not a lot of 9s".  Since email is considered by most users to be the absolute most critical business service there are going to be a lot of complaints; at least you won't hear them until after Microsoft gets onmicrosoft.com working again.  The Register will post more on this as they receive confirmation but for now the hypothesis it was a DNS issue.

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"Numerous other sub-domains of onmicrosoft.com were also affected, we've verified, and the issue appeared to be briefly widespread. It was initially feared a DNS cockup was to blame, but we're still investigating."

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Source: The Register

Looking back at Azure's stormy day

Subject: General Tech | November 11, 2013 - 03:28 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, azure, red dog, cloud

The Register had a chance to conduct a brief interview with the Windows Azure general manager, Mike Neil, about what caused the recent global Azure failure.  The beginning was an update pushed to the Red Dog front end software which customers interface with and which communicates to load balancers for resource scheduling which started to break the ability of some admins to move VMs from staging to production.  While the problems were limited and intermittent, they were occurring in all regions of the globe which did not speak well of the systems partitioning.  Microsoft has realized that Red Dog is a single point of failure and will be working to modify that for the future and also discussed some of the other underlying technologies here.

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"Windows Azure suffered a global meltdown at the end of October that caused us to question whether Microsoft had effectively partitioned off bits of the cloud from one another. Now we have some answers."

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Source: The Register

Microsoft teaches you how to inspire confidence in the cloud

Subject: General Tech | October 31, 2013 - 12:53 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, azure, office 365, fail

For the better part of yesterday a good portion of Microsoft's Azure was down across the globe, with no geographic location left unaffected.  Azure is not only Microsoft's cloud storage service but also handles authentication for Office 365 and hosts the Exchange servers used by the new office suite.  Thankfully it was not a complete outage but the scope of the problem is quite worrisome, Microsoft has always claimed that Azure is partitioned geographically to prevent these types of global outages; their FTP service also failed during this outage adding credence to the lack of partitioning and possibility of cascading failures.  A failure of this magnitude on a business critical service is quite worrying but allowed The Register to give us a new term, "Blue Sky of Death".

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"Microsoft's Windows Azure cloud was hit by a worldwide partial compute outage today, calling into question how effectively Redmond has partitioned its service.

The problems emerged at 2.35AM UTC, and were still ongoing as of 10.20PM UTC the same day, according to the company's service dashboard."

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Source: The Register

Microsoft's Azure cloud qualifies as secure

Subject: General Tech | October 1, 2013 - 01:14 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, azure, cloud, DoD, secure

Microsoft just picked up a big win in their battle against IBM and Amazon for a share of the Cloud now that the US Government has certified them as being secure.  This is their first such certification which opens up a very large market for them and will make them more attractive to private firms as well.  While most salespeople will tell you that the only thing that matters about the cloud is high availability, IT departments are far more concerned about security.  High availability is assumed, if that is the only sales pitch a cloud provider gives you then you should probably stay away from them, your clients will be much happier knowing their proprietary data is secure and available as opposed to just available.  Slashdot commenters await you.

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"Microsoft's cloud storage platform Azure received their first government certification yesterday, less than 24 hours before the official shutdown. The certification, which grants Azure 'Provisional Authority to Operate,' should make it easier for Microsoft to compete with rivals like IBM and Amazon Web Services for government contracts. The certification signifies that the Department of Defense, Homeland Security, and US General Services Administration have all deemed Azure safe from external hackers. Government cloud contracts are a lucrative market, as seen by Amazon's recent tussle with IBM over a $600M contract for a private CIA cloud."

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Source: Slashdot

Microsoft Rumored To Be Working On Cloud-Based "Mohoro" Windows Desktop Service

Subject: General Tech | May 2, 2013 - 05:07 AM |
Tagged: windows, thin client, remote desktop, mohoro, microsoft, cloud computing, azure

Microsoft may be working on its own cloud-based desktop service according to sources speaking with ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley. The rumored service codenamed “Mohoro” would build the Windows desktop SaaS (Software as a Service) solution on top of the company’s Windows Azure cloud computing platform. With Mohoro, Microsoft would provide Azure virtual machines running the Windows operating system. Users would then be able to remote into the desktop on any Internet connected computer or mobile device (with remote desktop support) and get access to their own desktop and applications.

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The Windows desktop... coming soon to a cloud near you?

Windows Azure users can already run virtual machines with Linux or Windows OSes, but in the case of Windows Microsoft only allows server versions to be run. Incensing restrictions prevent users from loading consumer operating systems such as Windows XP, 7 or 8 onto the virtual machines. The rumored Mohoro service would apparently relax the licensing restrictions and allow businesses or consumers to deploy client operating systems running on the Azure VMs. It would basically take the need for enterprises to run their own hardware and move it to “the cloud” behind a Microsoft-run subscription service.

It is an interesting idea that I could see universities and businesses looking into. The Azure platform is actually pretty good, from what little testing I've done on it. However, I think that for many consumers a local install is preferable. Although syncing applications and files can be a pain if you have multiple machines, you retain control of your data and are not bound to needing an always-on Internet connection to access that data and run applications. Further, latency issues and bandwidth caps with home Internet connections make a paid-for Azure desktop less appealing to home users. I think Microsoft would have a hard-enough time selling users a subsciption for a local/traditional Windows installation, much less a subscription for an OS requiring an always-on Internet connection to use their computer.

Would you use an Azure-powered desktop as your main OS?

Source: ZDNet