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Microsoft Cloud Services Usage Surges Over 700% in Regions With Enforced Social Distancing: How Could This Impact Your Organization?

Last week, European organizations ran into virtual machine (VM) capacity constraints in Azure, as they attempted to implement their business continuity plans due to COVID-19. The error message read “Allocation failed. We do not have sufficient capacity for the requested size in this region.” This isn’t the first time this has happened however, as last fall, organizations in the north eastern section of the United States dealt with a similar issue.

As organizations develop and shape the definition of the new “business as normal,” there very well could be more capacity constraints to deal with. Some users have mentioned keeping VMs allocated and reducing provisioning to lower the odds of not having resources available. While this may be an attractive solution to some organizations, it could increase the load on the system and further reduce service quality. Prioritizing critical workloads for the short term or being reasonable with usage should be examined while this new normal can be crafted and not crash from being overloaded.

Per Microsoft’s communication updates, it has seen a 775% increase in usage of cloud services, over 44 million new daily Teams users, and virtual desktop usage has multiped three fold. Microsoft’s response to these numbers has been to start throttling certain M365 and O365 services. The named services at this time are OneNote, SharePoint, and Stream, however, Azure, Xbox Live, and Power BI have also witnessed similar constraints.

In a further statement from Microsoft, “As companies operationalize to address new and unique challenges, we have mobilized our global response plan to help customers stay up and running during this critical time. We are actively monitoring performance and usage trends 24/7 to ensure we are optimizing our services for customers worldwide, while accommodating new demand. We are working closely with first responder organizations and critical government agencies to ensure we are prioritizing their unique needs and providing them our fullest support. We are also partnering with governments around the globe to ensure our local datacenters have on-site staffing and all functions are running properly.”

For organizations looking for help, updates, and further information, the following resources are available: Azure Service Health and Microsoft 365 Service health and continuity.

Our Take

  • Expect capacity constraints: prioritize critical production needs and don’t expect to have all business operations as normal.
  • Track and log downtime or issues that could come in necessary to attain service credits or refunds from Microsoft.
  • Overburdening the system could lead to crashes or downtime that could have a larger impact on everyone.
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