Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Concerns about using 3rd party add-ins in Azure

Recently I deployed a WordPress website from the Azure Marketplace. As with most Azure services the process of setting this up is very easy and a lot happens behind the screen.

One of the configuration items is a MySQL database provided by ClearDB.


So after you deploy the solution, the ClearDB database will be linked to your Azure Website. So far so good.

This morning I got a call from the web designer who said 'the server is down'. After some more questions I understood that the website was still available, but the connection with the database failed.

I checked the Azure Health dashboard and all checks were green. Which to be honest did not surprise me because my experience with the availability of Azure services has been very good until today.


Next stop was the Notifications section in the Azure Portal which had nothing too. In the mean time the web designer called and said the database was back but complained he had lost hours of work. At this point I was getting serious doubts about my decision to have my new company website built on Azure infrastructure.

At first I did not notice anything relevant on the ClearDB website until I read the FAQ again and noticed a link to their health information. It was immediately clear they had major issues in my region:


Unfortunately I discovered this hours after the incident happened and there was no mechanism in place for this information to reach me pro-actively.

I had a similar issue when I transferred some resources to a new Azure Subscription and someone deleted my SendGrid subscription. Had to visit the Azure Gallery, purchase the SendGrid service again and change the configuration of my Azure services to use the updated subscribtion.

Both incidents made me realize we still need to think of our services (website, email, ...) as a whole and include all dependent components in the picture. The fact that we are billed by Microsoft and have an manage the service from a single dashboard does not mean we have a single point of contact when it concerns support or health information.

Added to my (long) to-do list: Investigate if I can migrate from ClearDB MySQL to Azure SQL...

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