Akamai helping Microsoft with Net outage woes

By Ashlee Vance, IDG News Service |  Networking

Microsoft Corp. has forged a deal with Akamai Technologies Inc. in an attempt to rectify some of the problems which caused extensive outages across Microsoft's Web properties last week, according to the software vendor.

Microsoft recruited Akamai last week to provide secondary, back-up DNS (domain name service) servers after the software giant incurred widespread criticism for having a very localized DNS system at its headquarters in Redmond, Washington.

"One of the big criticisms we heard and saw is that there is this single network doing DNS," Adam Sohn, a spokesman with Microsoft, said in an interview Monday. "It has served traffic successfully for years, but perhaps this was a choke point."

Microsoft enlisted Akamai's help last week and now has two networks which can handle the company's DNS traffic. The primary servers remain under Microsoft's control, while Akamai will host the secondary set of servers.

"We learned a bunch of hard lessons last week," Sohn said. "In response to that we are going to take a real hard look at the architecture of our networks and the processes which support them. We are not afraid to change and be self-critical."

DNS servers translate Web addresses into numeric codes processed by computers. Microsoft blamed one of its own technicians for making changes to the company's DNS networks which caused outages last Tuesday and Wednesday. Users around the globe temporarily lost access to some of the software giant's most visited Web destinations, including the Hotmail e-mail service, Expedia travel site and Microsoft's corporate site. [See "Microsoft owns up to DNS snafu," Jan. 25.] Outages last Thursday and Friday were due to hacker denial-of-service attacks.

Microsoft will now dedicate some of its staff to assessing technology policies across the board. A group of technicians will examine the structure of corporate networks and other technologies, according to Sohn.

Microsoft would not release details on financial losses incurred during the outages.

Microsoft, in Redmond, Washington, can be reached at +1-425-882-8080 or via the Internet at http://www.microsoft.com/. Akamai, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, can be reached at +1-617-250-3000 or at http://www.akamai.com/.

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