Coronavirus: Microsoft Working ‘Every Day’ On Cloud Capacity Issues

Microsoft has said it is working through a backlogue of customers’ cloud capacity requests – called quota requests – as it continues to deal with issues generated by a massive increase in cloud service usage during the coronavirus pandemic.

The company said its cloud services, including Teams, Dynamics 365 and Azure have been “put to the test” with “surging” usage as shelter-in-place orders took effect in Asia and then in Europe over the past few weeks.

Ordinarily, Microsoft said that in any given Azure data centre region – of which there are 58 worldwide – it aims to ensure a “near-instant” capacity buffer within data centres, while keeping additional infrastructure buffer ready to deploy to regions with high demand.

In March, however, “surging use of Teams” took Microsoft into “unprecedented territory” where the increase in demand was sustained and increasingly worldwide, the company said in an Azure business continuity update.

Image credit: Microsoft

‘Cautious approach’

“Without knowing the true scale of the new demand, we took a cautious approach and put in place temporary resource limits on new Azure subscriptions,” Microsoft said.

This allowed Microsoft to continue to meet its promised service levels for existing customers, while supporting the “dramatic shift” to widespread use of Teams for remote work and education.

Teams is a Microsoft communication and collaboration platform that combines workplace chat, video meetings, file storage and application integration.

In the meantime, Microsoft said it has been optimising and load-balancing the Teams architecture and rolling the adjustments out worldwide using Azure DevOps, allowing the company to manage the service’s rapid growth moving forward without creating capacity issues.

The company said it is also expediting additional server capacity to specific regions that faced “constraints”, although it didn’t specify which regions were affected.

It is also working “every day” to process a backlogue of customer quota requests, which it said should be completed “over the next few weeks” in “almost all” regions.

The company said it is now removing restrictions on new free and benefit accounts used for educational purposes in “several regions”, which weren’t specified.

Capacity

Microsoft said it is using its experiences to adjust its data science models and better forecast future demands, including adding more support to handle future global events that may drive simultaneous demand usage everywhere in the world.

“We remain committed to operational excellence and we will continue to share what we are learning and doing to support everyone during this time,” Microsoft said.

Microsoft isn’t the only company facing challenges in vastly scaling its online services capacity during the pandemic, with the Zoom teleconferencing service also dealing with growing pains over the past few weeks that have seen it criticised over security issues.

Intel said last week it had seen its data centre business surge 43 percent year-on-year in the first quarter as companies look to scale out their cloud services capacity.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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