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Microsoft Sees Azure Service Demand Increase Due to COVID-19

David Paul

,

Microsoft

The company says it has seen significant spike in usage, with more than 44 million daily users generating more than 900 million meeting and calling minutes on Teams daily in a single week.

Microsoft has seen a huge demand in cloud services on ‘Microsoft Azure’ in countries such as Italy and the UK where people have been told to stay at home due to the coronavirus outbreak.

There has been a 775% in cloud services growth for Teams calls and meeting minutes in a one-month period in Italy, with Microsoft having to place some temporary cloud-service restrictions as a result.

Officials recently acknowledged the throttling of some “non-essential” Office 365 services to continue to meet demand. Several Azure customers in Europe also have been restricted when trying to spin up virtual machines and some other services, as Microsoft prioritises health-related workloads given the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a blog post, Microsoft officials elaborated a on how its prioritisation criteria is impacting Azure customers.

Microsoft said: “We’re implementing a few temporary restrictions designed to balance the best possible experience for all of our customers.

“We have placed limits on free offers to prioritise capacity for existing customers. We also have limits on certain resources for new subscriptions. These are ‘soft’ quota limits, and customers can raise support requests to increase these limits.

“If requests cannot be met immediately, we recommend customers use alternative regions (of our 54 live regions) that may have less demand surge. To manage surges in demand, we will expedite the creation of new capacity in the appropriate region.”

Despite the increase in demand, the company says it has not had any significant cloud service disruptions, although in some major areas such as the UK and Northern Europe, they are “observing deployments for some computer resource types in these regions drop below our typical 99.99 percent success rates.”

Microsoft officials says they will provide updates on cloud service performance and advised users to check their Azure Service Health, Microsoft 365 Service Health and Xbox Live dashboards to receive updates on performance issues.

“The global health pandemic continues to impact every organisation—large or small—their employees, and the customers they serve,” Microsoft commented in the blog.

“Everyone is working tirelessly to support all our customers, especially critical health and safety organisations across the globe, with the cloud services needed to sustain their operations during this unprecedented time.

“Equally, we are hard at work providing services to support hundreds of millions of people who rely on Microsoft to stay connected and to work and play remotely.”

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The company is also working with Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) to ensure that services remain operational.

A company spokesperson said: “We’ve been in regular communication with ISPs across the globe and are actively working with them to augment capacity as needed.

“In particular, we’ve been in discussions with several ISPs that are taking measures to reduce bandwidth from video sources in order to enable their networks to be performant during the workday.”

David Paul

Staff Writer, DIGIT

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