Microsoft Azure capacity woes hit UK customers. Yes, you read that right

Clients: We need more compute. Redmond: 'Go to Canada'


Exclusive Microsoft's public cloud business is experiencing growing pains – fresh deployments are being held up by insufficient rack space in the UK data centres that host Azure.

According to company insiders, Microsoft rents data centre space in London and Cardiff from third-party providers, and owns a facility in Durham, but these sites are struggling to meet rising local demand.

"We are trying to deploy a development environment on Microsoft Azure and have been told we couldn't as it has reached full capacity," said one customer, who spoke to us on the condition of anonymity.

He said Microsoft directed his organisation to its own bit barn in the Netherlands but this too was bursting at the seams.

"Microsoft wanted us to go for a Canadian data centre, which we can't as the data has to stay in Europe."

These points were mirrored by sources at other clients too: "There isn't enough compute power [at the UK sites], so we had to burst to northern Europe which wasn't ideal because of the residency of their data."

Customers with large estates that cannot be fragmented, or with highly complex workloads that require meaty compute are the worst affected, a Microsoft trade customer said.

"There are capacity issues," he told us. "It is felt most around the large instances, the G-Series [which provides the most memory, highest processing power and the chunkiest amount of local SSD]."

Microsoft should, in theory, be able to sign a cheque to spin up more servers in third-party data centres, but a person very familiar with the vendor said these decisions were often made by a US exec far away from the coalface, possibly lacking the urgency of people dealing with clients directly.

"This could be a classic case of the Microsoft ivory tower," the source suggested.

Microsoft offers massive Azure discounts to very big customers, in some instances up to 75 per cent off list price, a senior figure in the vendor's channel told us. Maybe the company does not have the appetite presently – given capacity constraints – to grab market share in the UK.

The Register asked Microsoft about the Azure concerns in the UK and a company mouthpiece sent us this statement: "Demand for our cloud offerings in the United Kingdom has been growing rapidly and we are continuing to increase the available capacity to accommodate an expanding customer base."

Simon Hansford, CEO at UKCloud, a British service provider, said Microsoft had made no major investment in data centres locally but had set up "beach heads to get over the PR issue [of data sovereignty]". ®

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