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back to article Microsoft coughs up compensation for Azure cloud cock-up

Microsoft has vowed to compensate users of its Azure cloud after an expired SSL certificate took the service offline. Victims of the Blue Sky of Death, which lasted 12 hours, will get credits as per their service-level agreement (SLA), the Redmond giant confirmed on its website. Windows Azure was knocked offline globally …

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Windows

""The RCA will be posted on this blog as soon as it is available," he wrote."

Good. This is definitely one of the occasions when it is highly advisable to avoid the standard corporate bullshitting attempts to explain away/obfuscate - they have to convince their enterprise customers that they do know what went wrong and they do know how to fix it.

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Mushroom

Re: ""The RCA will be posted on this blog as soon as it is available," he wrote."

Who says the RCA won't be corporate bullshit?

Agreed though that MS might not get away with that...

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Windows

@ADC "Who says the RCA won't be corporate bullshit?" Oh, I would entirely agree......

.............that they might be that stupid. However, that "cloak" would in practice last about as long as it took the tech-pros over the whole of planet Earth and the rest of Known Space to begin to howl.

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Mushroom

Re: ""The RCA will be posted on this blog as soon as it is available," he wrote."

To be fair, Microsoft only claim 99.9% uptime for Azure - or about 9 hours downtime per year on average. Coincidentally, this issue lasted about 9 hours...

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Anonymous Coward

Is this new?

Maybe I missed this term in the reporting of the original event, but calling it "Blue Sky of Death" is IMHO genius :)

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FAIL

Re: Is this new?

Azure- Blue Sky (What Was I ) Thinking...

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Eh?

As far as I can see this article basically says:

"Microsoft to compensate customers who have a legal right to be compensated under their SLA".

It's hardly news, no matter how much a positive spin you try to put on it.

In other news, I *am* going to pay my phone bill this month, as agreed with my telco many years ago.

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Re: Eh?

More likely "Microsoft to compensate both customers". I suspect there's at least two, maybe thee orders of magnitude between the volume of Azure's business and that of the big boys.

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Anonymous Coward

If you think that finding out the root cause of a problem can be done by threatening violence, you go further to prove that you know nothing about IT, business or human nature in general.

It's very simple: Threaten people and they'll try to shift the blame to get out of it, you won't find out anything. Treat them as reasonable people and you can have a proper analysis of the problem and find out what actually went wrong.

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Trollface

Threatening RCA?

Actually, I think Eadon has a point.

I'm thinking the point of the so-called RCA is to make sure MS keeps their customers. It therefore does not have much to do with finding the real root cause as long as it leads to the desired effect.

Cynical? Who? Me?

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Anonymous Coward

Threaten people and they'll try to shift the blame to get out of it, you won't find out anything. Treat them as reasonable people and you can have a proper analysis of the problem and find out what actually went wrong.

Treating customers as normal human beings also has the advantage they may not take you to court for breach of contract. MS probably has the same conditions in their ToS as it has with their software ("(1) it's never our fault, (2) if it is, see (1)") but this outage went a tad beyond a mere blip, and I personally would like to know what effect it has had on the people who recommended the use of this service, and if they had functional Business Continuity Management in place for such an event.

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Isn't Blue Sky of Death a trademark ?

Pretty sure it's a Midnight Oils album.

Eadon makes a serious point, but is unfair to Microsoft.

Not only does no Cloud vendor offer any meaningful compensation, such things are rarer than Dalek shit in the industry as a whole. Back in the 1970s when copying a file from one machine to another was an interesting experimental activity that made sense, in in 2013, there really ought to be a cash incentive for IT suppliers to be reliable.

The problem with Steve Balmer is that he's such a crap accountant that he doesn't realise that he's an

accountant at all.

If you say to an accountant ,"the cost from preventing screwup X is $Y,000 but the cost of the screwup is having to pay someone to write a blog post to say sorry, then the accountant will ask why you are bothering him with something where the answer is so obvious.

If you add "but X may never happen", he will dryly mock you.

Fact is that there is a vast number of ways Azure could have gone titsup and so the odds of it being any particular problem is just this size of zero. Fixing all those potential issues costs money, but their effect doesn't.

So if there was a cost associated with the recent Azure failure, the political / accountancy axis that drives all decisions at Microsoft would allocate more money to stop problems.

As an entity, MS is not stupid, it can learn, so look at the lesson it can draw from this screwup.

Cost (Screwup) == $10,000

Cost (Prevention) == $30,000,000

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Isn't Blue Sky of Death a trademark ?

I thought Blue Sky of Death was some sort of ELO remix.

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Re: Isn't Blue Sky of Death a trademark ?

Far be it from me to argue with your costings, Dominic, but what about the cost of lost/delayed sales due to the bad publicity? How many will be put off temporarily (or forever)?

I know it's impossible to answer accurately, but that doesn't mean it's not a real cost.

I guess we will get some idea when comparing market share in years to come.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Isn't Blue Sky of Death a trademark ?

"Fact is that there is a vast number of ways Azure could have gone titsup and so the odds of it being any particular problem is just this size of zero."

There may be a vast number of ways that the bits of Azure could fail, but the number of things that could take down the entire service globally should be very much smaller, since the very defintion of a cloud service includes multiple redundancy to cover hardware failure, sabotage, loss of power supply, civil disaster etc. To lose everything shows that MS risk management isn't up to much. When EC2 went down in Virginia, they didn't lose all worldwide service - and they had things back online in far less time than it took MS to sort this one out - now it was pretty bad that they lost their Virginia data centre, but that they didn't lose all service and had everything restored in a couple of hours is a bit more akin to what I'd expect.

I think the maths works against MS here, that the cost in reputational damage and lost sales will in fact far outweigh the costs of doing the job right. But although MS will presumably fix the specific problem, I doubt they'll go back and fix the risk management approach that enabled this to happen.

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Megaphone

Re:" so look at the lesson it can draw from this screwup."

"If you say to an accountant"? We have all too many examples in industry where the bean counters drive strategy - look where that's got a lot of firms. The correct question that MS should ask themselves (not their double entry bookkeeping onanists) is in fact "is there not a possible cost associated with this that we have not taken into account"? If they think long and hard the answer will come to them. "Yes there fucking is. We are on the ground floor of trying to create a big slice of what is going to be a mega-global business far larger than it is today (because it is currently in its infancy and still very dependent upon customer trust) and fuck-ups like this could cost us billions if not trilliions in lost future customers". Then they should spend whatever it takes and (if necessary) engage in cost cutting elsewhere in the business - they could start by firing all accountants at senior manager level or above.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Isn't Blue Sky of Death a trademark ?

Amazon did in fact have a similar previous storage issue that impacted their storage across multiple regions for a lot longer than 9 hours!

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/27/technology/latest-netflix-disruption-highlights-challenges-of-cloud-computing.html?_r=0

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Re: Isn't Blue Sky of Death a trademark ?

Roger

Accountants abhor uncertainty. I discussed a problem with an accountant some years ago, where they wrote off a rather substantial amount in the current financial year (about to end), rather than claw back most (if not all) of the loss the next year. When I told him that it did not make sense, he told me that accountants only work with certainties - ifs and maybes does not cut it. So, where there was some leeway in the books, they were happy to take a loss now, rather than having to suffer the uncertainty of a win the next year.

Possible/probable lost/delayed sales and customers cannot be quantified and are therefore invisible to accountants and deemed not a "real" cost.

When the loss does show up in the next year, it will be the salespeople who will be blamed for not making budget and duly punished for this lapse in duty.

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