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Microsoft Azure to prioritise emergency workers and critical government infrastructure

Written by Mon 23 Mar 2020

Microsoft monitoring Azure performance “24/7” to optimise services for key workers and organisations

Microsoft has said its cloud platform Azure will begin prioritising emergency personnel and organisations working on the frontline of coronavirus efforts.

In a blog post, the tech giant said first responders, health and emergency management services, and critical government functions would be prioritised if its cloud infrastructure encountered capacity constraints.

Microsoft said it will also work to ensure remote workers “stay up and running with the core functionality” of Teams, the workplace collaboration and communication tool which experienced an outage last week.

“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,” the company wrote in a blog post.

“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.”

“These are certainly unprecedented and challenging times. It is not business as usual. But, together, we can and will get through this. We will be back in touch soon. In the meantime, if you have any immediate questions or needs, please refer to the following resources.”

Microsoft said it will continue to communicate with customers “proactively and transparently” about its cloud policies through the Microsoft Trust Center.

Data centres and networks have been placed under immense strain as workers rush to embrace remote working tools and those encouraged or required to practice social distancing stream more video content than ever before.

Last week, the DE-CIX Internet Exchange posted a world record for data throughput, at 9.1 Terabits per second.

While Microsoft did not explicitly mention gaming services, in setting its Azure criteria it appears the company might be responding to calls for online gaming to be deprioritised in the event that digital infrastructure cannot meet the demands of all users. Azure infrastructure supports Microsoft’s online gaming service, Xbox Live, which has over 64 million active monthly users.

In the same week that video-game franchise Call of Duty released a free 80-100GB update to millions of users, Eric Broockman, CTO of US-based networking company Extreme Networks, urged network operators to deprioritise non-essential traffic.

“What network operators could do to reduce the pressure on their networks and ensure connectivity for all is to deprioritise non-essential traffic coming from applications such as online gaming,” he said.

Written by Mon 23 Mar 2020


Azure Coronavirus Microsoft
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