Microsoft Photosynth Buckles Under Demand - InformationWeek

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Cloud // Software as a Service

Microsoft Photosynth Buckles Under Demand

The 3-D photo-stitching service slowed to a crawl after receiving more than 286,000 image uploads on its first day.

Microsoft is apologizing to Photosynth users after the Web site that hosts the 3-D photo-stitching service crashed under the weight of heavy demand last week.

"We have been overwhelmed (in both good and bad ways) over the past 24 hours with the amount of interest in Photosynth," said Photosynth team members in a blog post Friday, one day after Microsoft officially launched the service.

The bloggers said users uploaded more than 286,000 images to the site during its first day of operation, and created 7,727 "synths." Users create synths by employing Photosynth's online tools to meld a collection of individual photos into a single, three-dimensional rendering.

Unfortunately, the demand brought Photosynth to its knees -- the site was either offline completely or interminably slow throughout much of its launch day. "I'm getting random hangs in the generation process," wrote Photosynth user Seth Jayson, on the blog page.

"Same happened to me, got to publishing Synth, and wouldn't go further," wrote 'Peter', another user. "Then my computer had to reboot, and when it came back up, and I started Synth again, it didn't show the Synth I had made," Peter complained.

Microsoft responded to the outages late Friday. The company took Photosynth offline at 11:30 Friday night. "We're changing out some hardware and adding capacity," wrote a Photosynth team member, in a separate blog entry. "Note that any synths in progress when we go down will need to be repeated," the team member warned.

Photosynth appeared to be back up and running as of early Monday.

The outages raise questions about the reliability of so-called cloud-computing services -- an IT model under which users access applications and services from remotely hosted servers. In addition to Microsoft's Photosynth troubles, Amazon.com's S3 storage service has been plagued by outages this year, most recently last month.

Shares of Microsoft were down slightly in early trading Monday -- off .11% to $27.81.

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