Microsoft’s recent widespread cloud service outage has been resolved. In a statement to BBC, the Redmond company stressed that the issue was not caused by a cyber-attack but due to a Wide Area Network (WAN) update it implemented.
The problem generally impacted different cloud-based services of the software giant, including Microsoft Teams, Exchange Online, Outlook, SharePoint Online, OneDrive for Business, PowerBi, Microsoft 365 Admin Center, Microsoft Graph, Microsoft Intune, Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps, and Microsoft Defender for Identity. Xbox Live and Microsoft Store apps relying on Microsoft Azure servers were also not exempted. This resulted in different reports from Microsoft 365 service users, who experienced huge business and work inconveniences on Wednesday.
“Starting at 07:05 UTC on 25 January 2023, customers may experience issues with networking connectivity, manifesting as network latency and/or timeouts when attempting to connect to Azure resources in Public Azure regions, as well as other Microsoft services including M365, PowerBI,” Microsoft confirmed.
BBC reached out to the company to confirm if the problem resulted from an attack. However, Microsoft said it originated from an update, which it then rolled back to resolve the outage.
“We have identified a recent WAN update as the likely underlying cause, and have taken steps to roll back this update,” Microsoft updated. “Our latest telemetry shows signs of recovery across multiple regions and services, and we are continuing to actively monitor the situation.”
At 08:00 EST, Microsoft reported that “the impacted services have recovered and remain stable.”
In general, it took Microsoft more than five hours to end the issue, but its impact was undeniably large, given that many businesses and institutions rely on its cloud services. For instance, in its FY23 Q2 earnings release, Microsoft revealed that its Teams communication platform hit more than 280 million monthly active users during the said period. Just by this figure alone, a single hours-long server issue could translate to huge disruptions to companies, organizations, and schools across the globe. Unfortunately, such problems are unpreventable. In the past, Microsoft already stressed the fact, describing “service incidents like outages are an unfortunate inevitability of the technology industry.”
“Of course, we are constantly improving the reliability of the Microsoft Azure cloud platform,” said Microsoft Azure CTO Mark Russinovich in 2020. “In spite of these efforts, we acknowledge the unfortunate reality that—given the scale of our operations and the pace of change—we will never be able to avoid outages entirely. During these times we endeavor to be as open and transparent as possible to ensure that all impacted customers and partners understand what’s happening.”