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Microsoft pulls its crowd-control tech from out of the shadows

Azure update comes alongside major Microsoft-wide DNS screwup

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Microsoft pushed its Windows Azure load balancing technology into general availability amid a widespread DNS disruption.

The rollout of "Traffic Manager" was announced on Thursday, and the tech lets admins apply a policy engine to DNS queries to domain names hosted on Azure.

The tech works by redirecting user queries to a Traffic Manager domain maintained by Windows Azure Traffic Manager via a CNAME record, which resolves the domain and shuttles the query to the appropriate cloud service.

Coincidentally, after announcing the rollout of Traffic Manager, a variety of Microsoft services including Windows Azure and Xbox became unavailable due to an as-yet-unspecified problem with Microsoft's global DNS configuration.

Azure big cheese Scott Guthrie has publicly said the problem lay outside Azure. We've pinged Microsoft for more information and will update as and when we hear back.

The GA of Traffic Manager sees Microsoft overtake Google and lag behind Amazon in terms of features as Azure doesn't – yet – offer multi-region load balancing, which AWS does via its Route 53 DNS service.

"Windows Azure Traffic Manager allows you to control the distribution of user traffic to applications that you host within Windows Azure. Your applications can run in the same data center, or be distributed across different regions across the world," Scott Guthrie wrote in a blog post on Thursday.

The tech lets admins shuffle queries to geographically close servers, and can provide an auto-routing capability around downed servers. None of that will help if the global DNS system the tech itself may utilize is down, mind. ®

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