On Friday Microsoft changed its DNS so that requests for www.microsoft.com no longer resolve to machines on Microsoft’s own network, but instead are handled by the Akamai caching system, which runs Linux.
Overnight, microsoft.com has suffered an outage of a little over an hour. Microsoft have posted to the effect that this was caused by a [presumably non-http] denial of service that is not associated with any known vulnerability in Microsoft's own software. Speculation on Information Week that the outage might be part of a broader attack on internet infrastructure or linked to the start of the Defcon conference seems implausible, as only one other Fortune 100 site has shown an outage in the last 24 hours. Three of the 52 leading hosting providers monitored by Netcraft are showing outages in the last 24 hours, but all three are outside the US.
Buying a dedicated server or moving a site to a new network provider can be a stab in the dark in that it is often not easy to see the quality and reliability of the provider’s network performance until after the purchase has been made. Netcraft’s view is that lack of transparency on network performance and outages harms the whole industry, both consumers and providers. Just as the customer suffers from not being able to make an informed choice between suppliers taking into consideration network response times as well as price, vendors with fast and reliable networks have no easy way of empirically showing the prospect the relative quality of service of their network relative to other players in the market. Ignorance plays into the hands of the companies investing less in their networks, since they will be better able to discount, and their longer response times and network outages will be less obvious to the customer. More widespread knowledge helps the industry as a whole, because better informed customers are more willing to pay more for superior connectivity, and the extra revenue coming into the industry can be invested in further improving resilience, performance, and support creating a virtuous circle. Key metrics include;
- fewer outages – no one wants to be on a network that suffers frequent loss of connectivity.
- Shorter outages - customers will be more tolerant of short outages which may be operationally difficult to avoid;
- faster response times - the shorter the response times, the better.