If you have ever wondered why consulting groups such as Emerset and others exist, consider the complexity of Microsoft’s® Volume Licensing offerings and the amount of money VL customers invest in software and IT. Microsoft® attempts to “simplify” the way in which agreements are structured and products may be used, but changes in technology, usage trends, product updates, and user feedback result in an endlessly moving target. Microsoft® recognizes the complexity and even offers a document entitled “Microsoft® Product Use Rights Explained”, but that document is primarily a tutorial to help the user navigate the “Product Use Rights” (PUR) document. The PUR is more than 100 pages long. Additionally, the VL Product List is approximately 175 pages long. Both are updated monthly.
Knowledge of licensing rights is just one of the many benefits to be gained by using a third party consulting group. As with any major investment, knowledge is power and specialists can prepare you to get the most of your acquisition. They may also be able to keep you from committing to services or products you may not need. Whether you negotiate directly with Microsoft® or with a Channel Partner, both are trying to sell to you and will likely place their needs above yours. Working with a subject matter expert who is your advocate can save you a fortune.
Azure™ Service Outage – The Dark Side of the Cloud
Microsoft® Azure™ customers experienced widespread service outages in their European service regions, eastern Asia, Japan, and parts of the United States. The outages occurred shortly after midnight UTC on Wednesday, November 19, and ranged from two to eleven hours in duration. By Thursday (11/20) morning, Microsoft reported that the problems with core platform components had been mitigated, but as of Saturday evening in West Europe Microsoft is still reporting problems with virtual machines which appear to be stuck in a “Start State”. The outages impacted countless websites, including Microsoft’s own MSN.com.
Microsoft later acknowledged that the outage was a result of a bug in a software patch which resulted in an infinite loop impacting the Blob front ends and subsequently, the Service Health Dashboard.
Perhaps the more disturbing aspect of the incident is the reason the outage had such a far reaching impact. By Microsoft’s own admission, they failed to adhere to their own standard protocol of applying production changes in incremental batches before implementing them globally.
Widespread system interruptions are rare and they can happen to any cloud hosting company, but this comes at a bad time as Microsoft has been competing nicely with competitors Google™ and Amazon Web Services™ (AWS).
The standard SLA for Azure services is 99.9% service uptime, which equates to about eight hours downtime per year.