Microsoft: Good Enough Just Is Not

September 18, 2023

Was it the Russian hackers? What about the special Chinese department of bad actors? Was it independent criminals eager to impose ransomware on hapless business customers?

No. No. And no.

9 4 finger pointing

The manager points his finger at the intern working the graveyard shift and says, “You did this. You are probably worse than those 1,000 Russian hackers orchestrated by the FSB to attack our beloved software. You are a loser.” The intern is embarrassed. Thanks, Mom MJ. You have the hands almost correct… after nine months or so. Gradient descent is your middle name.

Microsoft Admits Slim Staff and Broken Automation Contributed to Azure Outage” presents an interesting interpretation of another Azure misstep. The report asserts:

Microsoft’s preliminary analysis of an incident that took out its Australia East cloud region last week – and which appears also to have caused trouble for Oracle – attributes the incident in part to insufficient staff numbers on site, slowing recovery efforts.

But not really. The report adds:

The software colossus has blamed the incident on “a utility power sag [that] tripped a subset of the cooling units offline in one datacenter, within one of the Availability Zones.”

Ah, ha. Is the finger of blame like a heat seeking missile. By golly, it will find something like a hair dryer, fireworks at a wedding where such events are customary, or a passenger aircraft. A great high-tech manager will say, “Oops. Not our fault.”

The Register’s write up points out:

But the document [an official explanation of the misstep] also notes that Microsoft had just three of its own people on site on the night of the outage, and admits that was too few.

Yeah. Work from home? Vacay time? Managerial efficiency planning? Whatever.

My view of this unhappy event is:

  1. Poor managers making bad decisions
  2. A drive for efficiency instead of a drive toward excellence
  3. A Microsoft Bob moment.

More exciting Azure events in the future? Probably. More finger pointing? It is a management method, is it not?

Stephen E Arnold, September 18, 2023


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