What You Can Learn from Monday’s Microsoft Azure Outage

By Forrest Silverman

Director of Client Services, NPI

August 21, 2014

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What happens when your cloud service provider suffers an outage? The question was on more than a few minds this Monday when Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing service experienced a global outage that lasted approximately five hours. If you’re an Azure customer, or are considering migrating to Microsoft’s cloud services, here are a few things to consider:

Microsoft is on the hook for SLA penalties, but it will take some effort to claim them. Microsoft will pay a penalty for Azure downtime that falls outside of their Service Level Agreement (SLA) requirements, but the process for collecting those penalties is cumbersome to say the least. Here’s an example:

  • In order to be eligible to submit a Claim with respect to any Incident, the Customer must first have notified Customer Support of the Incident, using the procedures set forth by Microsoft, within five business days following the Incident.
  • To submit a Claim, Customer must contact Customer Support and provide notice of its intention to submit a Claim. Customer must provide to Customer Support all reasonable details regarding the Claim, including but not limited to, detailed descriptions of the Incident(s), the duration of the Incidents, the names of affected databases, failed operations, and any attempts made by Customer to resolve the Incident.
  • In order for Microsoft to consider a Claim, Customer must submit the Claim, including sufficient evidence to support the Claim, by the end of the billing month following the billing month in which the Incident which is the subject of the Claim occurs.
  • Microsoft will use all information reasonably available to it to validate Claims and make a good faith judgment on whether the SLA and Service Levels apply to the Claim.
  • Microsoft’s SLAs change often and without warning. Microsoft SLAs change frequently and customers are rarely notified directly. That means it’s up to customers to stay on top of changes. Keep in mind there are 20 different cloud computing services under the Azure platform, all of which have their own SLA.

    You also need to understand terms for termination costs and transition assistance. Sometimes, it takes an outage for a company to realize the risk of IaaS is simply too great for them to bear, or that it’s time to switch vendors. Specifying termination costs and data transfer guidelines upfront in the IaaS sourcing process makes it far less painful and costly.

    If you’re considering a move to the cloud, or extending more of your IT environment in that direction, check out this white paper on how to optimize service, pricing, and contract terms and conditions.