Looking at the status history, it’s clear that the problems started around 2pm Eastern Time and it wasn’t until around two hours later that things started be brought back under control. At time of writing, there are still issues in many regions including US Central, US East 2, Europe North, and Japan East.
An update on the status page reads:
Starting at 18 Aug 2014 17:49 UTC, a small subset of customers are experiencing an interruption to Azure Services, may include Cloud Services, Virtual Machines, Websites, Automation, Service Bus, Backup, Site Recovery, HDInsight, Mobile Services, StorSimple and possible other Azure Services in multiple regions. We have taken action to resolve this incident, and are now validating the mitigation plan. Customers in many regions began to experience service restoration. Next update will be provided in 30 minutes.
This is far from being the first time that Azure has suffered a partial outage. Just last week Azure users experienced a series of disruptions which were eventually resolved.
With an almost certain move to the cloud on the cards for the future of Windows, Microsoft will be keen to ensure that problems like this are kept to a minimum. At the moment Azure is something that appeals to enterprise customers, but if consumer versions of Windows go down a similar route, stability will become even more important.
…aaaaand… we’re back up and running.