Tracking software outages/reliability is becoming a kind of competitive sport. Salesnet, which calls itself the "no bull alternative to salesforce.com" was quick to respond to the brief outage in the Benioff camp, alerting some of the press to the problem. I talked to Salesnet co-founder and President Jonathan Tang. He claimed that the outage last more than a few hours, from around 10:30 AM to 2:00 PM EST.
"We have taken a new approach and started to market aggressively against salesforce.com since October of 2005," Tang said. "We have a log-in to a salesforce.com account to keep track and proactively gain competitive G2 and intelligence. We have been monitoring their application service levels and reaching out to our network on some of the things they have been hearing [about salesforce.com] and from our prospects."
Tang acknowledged that outages are inevitable. He said that Salesnet's last outage came in 2003. Salesforce.com's high profile and recent outages (three in the last two months) has fueled concerns about reliability for demand software. The company might be in part a victim of its own success--growing faster than it can scale reliably. Salesforce.com expects that its $50 million build out of two new data centers and mirroring capabilities, due next month, will increase reliability.
Like salesforce.com, Salesnet has been developing its on demand CRM product since the late 1990's, but so far has only about 40,000 subscribers compared to salesforce.com's more than 350,000 and increasing mind share. Tang said that his company has been having some success lately, drafting off of salesforce.com (similar names) and winning 30 to 40 percent of deals in which they are both compete for the business. Tang said that Salesnet has 4,000 to 5,000 customers [he was vague about numbers--Salesnet is a private company], compared to salesforce.com's nearly 19,000. Benioff noted that Staples, formerly a large Salesnet customer, switched to salesforce.com last year.
In any case, the competition is heating up, which usually is good for customers. SAP is slated to join the hosted, on demand CRM fun this week. We'll do our best to make sense of the ongoing claims and counterclaims...
See also: Infoworld has a recent four-way shootout of hosted CRM--NetSuite, salesforce.com, Salesnet and RightNow.