Why it matters: Customers are often sold cloud services under the guise of “unlimited resources” that can be scaled to meet today’s demands, just like other utilities. Azure, like other cloud providers, has experienced a massive increase in the demand for resources in recent years to meet the needs of businesses and remote workers. Unfortunately for Microsoft, some customers are starting to feel the effects of that wave and learn that capacity has always been an issue.
According to a recent article by The informationmore than two dozen Azure data centers, including key centers in Washington, Europe and Asia, are currently operating at reduced capacity. This capacity reduction, attributed to several factors, could prevent customers from using Azure-based infrastructure and services used for their day-to-day operations.
Microsoft, like other cloud service providers, was feeling the pressure from ongoing global component shortages and the massive increase in telework requirements.
The inability to obtain the required processors and other components put the company (and many others) in a position where the need for capacity exceeded existing infrastructure. Despite the lack of resources, the company continued to market its cloud services and move users to their aging infrastructure.
Since then, Microsoft has attempted to address these issues by launching additional data centers around the world to increase overall capacity. While the idea sounds like a step in the right direction, it doesn’t necessarily solve the problem for customers currently experiencing issues in their current regions.
In addition to these expansions, the company periodically publishes statements intended to address, but not fully acknowledge, its ongoing capacity challenges. Last month, Microsoft Azure warned customers that they could experience outages due to “unprecedented growth in specific regions”. The warning was accompanied by guidance for: Troubleshoot virtual machine allocation issues†
Company representatives stated that the shortages are likely to extend through 2023 in key centers such as: US West 2† Since it was commissioned in 2007, the Washington State data center is one of the most widely used and, as a result, the most limited data center in the total infrastructure. According to the directions on Microsoft’s Wes Miller, Microsoft offers: no guidance to customers in selecting their best region and data center. This ensures that customers are drawn to their nearest data center, which may already be overloaded. Miller likens the experience to “boarding a bus that is already full of passengers.”
While the events of recent years are undoubtedly contributing factors, Microsoft can hardly pinpoint them as the sole reason for their current capacity issues. Customers and users on the web have been talking about US West 2’s performance since 2017. Walmart and Chevron, two of Azure’s largest customers, also experienced access issues in 2019.
Image credit: Chris Montgomery