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Monday, 21 May 2012

29 February - will you marry me?

This is the date when a woman can propose marriage to a man, turning the traditional tables a full 180 degrees.  Unfortunately for Microsoft it also meant a full blown outage on its Cloud platform named Azure.

Apparently encrypted data sent between a virtual server and the host system looked up the security certificate to authenticate the message.  Certificates are valid for a year so the system sought to validate the certificate as at 29 February 2013.  As 29 February comes around every four years,  there is no 29/02/2013 and the system crashed.  Worse was to follow as the system tried to restart itself and being unable to do so tried to repair and restart on other parts of the system which also failed, causing a cascade failure.

I doubt that the system engineers at Microsoft were in a proposing mood as the outage went on and on for 8 odd hours.

The millennium bug which was supposed to cause such mayhem as  the clocks ticked over to 2000 caused little concern, but this four yearly event was different.  We have nearly four years to prepare for the next  29 February  in 2016.  Let us hope we are all ready.

As an aside, many years ago I had a call from a Client on 29 February and she told me that it was the day that women could propose to men and 'what was I going to do about it?'  I was somewhat taken aback as I hardly knew the woman and I was already married.  Fortunately she used the ploy to get a reduction in her annual contract with my company;   how could I refuse?

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