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March 25, 2020updated 26 Mar 2020 1:25pm

Microsoft Feels the Squeeze: Throttles 365 Services, Migration Bandwidth

"You should expect that these apps will achieve very limited throughput..."

By CBR Staff Writer

Microsoft has warned customers that it is throttling a range of services in the face of growing pressure on its infrastructure reducing content migration, Data Loss Prevention (DLP), and backup solution bandwidth during weekday hours, shrinking download limits on OneNote and reducing video resolution on SharePoint.

The company described the “temporary adjustments” as vital to “Microsoft cloud service continuity during these unprecedented times” in an email to customers late Tuesday. The changes have been fleshed out in a range of updated user documents.

The move comes as pressure mounts on internet (and Microsoft’s Azure) infrastructure amid a surge in bandwidth use driven by work-from-home users and children sent home from school. (Microsoft said March 19 it had added 12 million Teams users in just seven days; hitting 44 million daily users, up from 20 million in November).

A screengrab of the email.

Across Europe regulators are scrambling to put in place mechanisms to reduce load on Internet Service Providers and other network infrastructure, with the European Commission working with major video streaming providers to cut bit rates, and giving ISPs freedom to apply “exceptional traffic management measures”. Even Ofcom has stepped in with its seven tips for consumers to reduce network load.

(Facebook also overnight said it was “temporarily reducing bit rates for videos on Facebook and Instagram in certain regions” to help alleviate potential network congestion. The news came as messaging service use doubled).

See also: Is the Internet Going to Break Under the Pressure of Traffic Surges?

Microsoft said: “Many SharePoint Online and OneDrive customers run business-critical applications against the service that run in the background. These include content migration, Data Loss Prevention (DLP), and backup solutions. During these unprecedented times, we are taking steps to ensure that SharePoint Online and OneDrive services remain highly available and reliable for your users who depend on the service more than ever in remote work scenarios.”

The company added: “We have implemented tighter throttling limits on background apps (migration, DLP and backup solutions) during weekday daytime hours. You should expect that these apps will achieve very limited throughput during these times. However, during evening and weekend hours for the region, the service will be ready to process a significantly higher volume of requests from background apps.”

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(Updated migration performance guidance documents suggest that part of the pressure stems from a widely used and now overloaded Microsoft API: “Microsoft’s SharePoint Migration Tool (SPMT) as well as several third party vendor tools utilize the SharePoint API for migration. It leverages Azure and uses channels for large content transfer.”)

Microsoft Throttles Services: Other Temporary Changes

OneNote: OneNote in Teams will be read-only for commercial tenants, excluding EDU. Users can go to OneNote for the web for editing. Download size and sync frequency of file attachments have also been changed. Details here.

SharePoint: Microsoft is rescheduling “specific backend operations” to regional evening and weekend business hours. Impacted capabilities include migration, DLP and delays in file management after uploading a new file, video or image. Users can also expect reduced video playback resolution, the company said.

Stream: “People timeline” has been disabled for newly uploaded videos. Meeting recording video resolution has been adjusted to 720p.

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