Microsoft's Windows Azure cloud hit by worldwide management interruption

The issue is related to a management feature used to deploy services on Azure

Microsoft's Windows Azure suffered from an issue on Wednesday that affected a management feature in the compute section of the public cloud, and remained unsolved Thursday morning.

Microsoft first updated the Windows Azure Service Dashboard at 2:35 AM UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) on Wednesday: "We are experiencing an issue with Compute in North Central US, South Central US, North Europe, Southeast Asia, West Europe, East Asia, East US and West US."

About 17 hours later the company posted a message saying that manual actions to perform so-called swap deployment operations may fail, and users should therefore delay them. Microsoft was still struggling to solve the issue on Thursday morning. But the company seemed to be on the right track saying that it "was continuing to validate and deploy mitigation for this issue."

The swap deployment operation is related to how services are deployed on Microsoft's cloud. Azure offers two deployment environments for cloud services: a staging environment in which users can test their system, and a production environment. The two are separated only by the VIP (virtual IP) addresses used to access them, and the swap deployment operations are used to switch them and turn the staging environment into the production environment.

The company hasn't elaborated on what caused the issue, but the fact that it affected all regions raises questions about how Microsoft has constructed the management portion of its cloud. The time it has taken Microsoft to fix the issue also puts the company in a less than favorable light. But fortunately for Microsoft and users, the issue hasn't affected the ability to run applications on Azure.

Microsoft has apologized for any inconvenience this has caused its customers.

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