The impact of Coronavirus on Microsoft Azure

There have been reports recently that some users in certain regions were hitting capacity limits in Microsoft Azure when trying to create new resources. Microsoft have shared some information around the impact the coronavirus epidemic is having on their cloud infrastructure:

  • 775% increase in cloud services (in regions performing lockdown)
  • Teams up to 44 million daily users, running over 900 million minutes of meetings and calls each day
  • Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) usage increased 3x
  • 42% increase in government use of Power BI for sharing COVID-19 dashboards

Some of these numbers are pretty mind-blowing and one can see how they might catch a cloud vendor by surprise.

Cloud Datacentre provisioning

Microsoft say they will be adding “significant new capacity” over the coming weeks to help support this increased use.

Something I’m sure Microsoft have considered is how much of this extra usage will continue?. What happens as things start to return to normal and some of this usage starts to drop off? They’ll be left with more unused capacity than their models anticipated – might this lead to them raising prices on certain Azure services in the future?

Prioritising certain services

Microsoft have detailed that they’re focusing the “highest level of monitoring” on services related to emergency services, medical supply management, healthbots, and more.

They have also introduced some temporary restrictions to help ease the load – free offers are being limited, to keep capacity available for “existing customers”, and certain resources are being “soft” limited for new subscriptions. Customers can raise support tickets to raise these soft limits, but Microsoft do say that other geographical regions may need to be used to help manage demand.

Teams changes

Microsoft have made a number of small changes to Teams in an effort to reduce bandwidth. They scaled back how often it checks for people’s “presence” (whether they’re online or not), reduced the video resolution, limited how quickly it shows if the other user is typing, and made OneNote within Teams read-only for non-education tenants. All small changes that won’t really impact users but, collectively, must make quite a difference to the bandwidth being used.

Further Reading

Microsoft update on cloud services continuity

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