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What Happened? Microsoft's Fritz Discusses Azure Outage and Building Azure Sites

Before launching into his presentation on the intricacies of building Azure-based Web sites, Microsoft's Jeffrey Fritz talks about Tuesday's widespread Azure outage that affected sites throughout most of the northern hemisphere.

On Tuesday evening for approximately five hours, there was a widespread Azure outage across most of the northern hemisphere. Jeffrey Fritz, senior product manager with Microsoft's Azure Development Team who just recently joined Microsoft, led off his presentation with an explanation of what had happened the previous evening. "It's my cheerful duty to say, I'm sorry.  Let's talk about what happened." Fritz led the keynote presentation on Wednesday, November 19 at Live! 360, held at the Loew's Royal Pacific Resort in Orlando, Florida.

Microsoft is looking at the outage event now to better mitigate such things in the future. Fritz explained that Azure does indeed have a status page that shows any current changes and status. There's also a history of event disclosures. The partial service interruption the night before lasted for about five hours.  Of the 19 datacenters across the globe, the entire northern hemisphere apparently suffered outages.

Among its other configuration options, the traffic manager in Azure lets you select a load balancing method and configure endpoints. "The strategy we took last night was to present a read-only copy. Now we've got this juggling act. We've got this static read-only site. Then when it came back, we needed to get back to the traffic manager."

Apparently, rolling out a performance update caused a traffic overload, according to a blog post by Jason Zander. This caused services built on top of Azure to bog down. Once Microsoft detected this issue, it promptly rolled back the change. It had to restart of the storage front ends in order to fully undo the update. Once Microsoft deployed mitigation steps, most Azure users started seeing service availability improvement across the affected regions.

After that explanation, Fritz moved on with his demo of setting up Azure Web sites. He showed how he set up a rotating selection of crazy cat images to publish out to his site. "You don't need to configure anything else," he says. "You can manage and add domain names and deploy into deployment slots."

Then he pushed his project out to the Azure Web site and ran it through a debugging routine. After fixing a small problem, he redeployed and could see both instances of his site running within the Azure console.  Then he swapped to the more recently updated site. "No one could tell they've been swapped," says Fritz. "You can change and edit sites without having the site going down or even anyone knowing."

Fritz continued, explaining how you can add additional instances and don't have to think about it or request new hardware, which streamlines performance tuning. You can also easily scale and deploy sites without affecting the running site.

Fritz concluded his presentation with a quick demonstration of how he set up a separate server to accommodate his kids' desire to play Minecraft. "It's easy to do," he says. "There's no packaging or zipping files. You can connect to the server, the drive is mounted and available -- it's already there." He then briefly ran Minecraft live on screen.

Live! 360 wraps up 1105 Media's 2014 event calendar. For the 2015 event schedule, go to live360events.com, vslive.com and techmentorevents.com.

About the Author

Lafe Low is the editorial liaison for ECG Events.

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