Infrastructure // PC & Servers
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12/4/2009
01:01 PM
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Bing Back After Outage

Microsoft is investigating what happened in an effort to prevent future downtime.

Microsoft's Bing search engine was down for about half an hour on Thursday evening (PST) and people noticed, a sign that Microsoft's effort to challenge Google's search supremacy remains vital.

With Bing usage flat over the past several months, as measured by Net Applications and Stat Counter, and up to almost 10% in the U.S. by comScore's October figures, ongoing user interest is something to celebrate.

It's one thing for Microsoft to fund a research study that shocks the world by finding 10 of 15 of Google users willing to switch from Google to Bing -- countering analysis published in July by JP Morgan's Imran Khan that found 98% of searchers would not switch to Bing -- but it's quite another when users in the wild take an interest in Bing's health.

Microsoft online services division senior VP Satya Nadella nonetheless struck a conciliatory note, as per the script in online service outages. He said a post-mortem is underway discover how the company's software and processes need to be improved to prevent the problem from recurring.

"The cause of the outage was a configuration change during some internal testing that had unfortunate and unintended consequences," he said in a note posted to the Bing blog. "As soon as the issue was detected, the change was rolled back, which caused the site to return to normal behavior. Unfortunately the detection and rollback took about half an hour, and during that time users were unable to use bing.com."

Unlike previous Google outages, which usually precipitate hand-wringing about the reliability of cloud services, Bing's brief bit nap doesn't appear to have amplified anxiety about Microsoft's cloud services.

InformationWeek and Dr. Dobb's have published an in-depth report on how Web application development is moving to online platforms. Download the report here (registration required).

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