Salesforce.com's outage obfuscation

Summary:Yesterday I posted about a salesforce.com outage that company founder and CEO Marc Benioff called "minor," lasting only about 30 minutes.

Yesterday I posted about a salesforce.com outage that company founder and CEO Marc Benioff called "minor," lasting only about 30 minutes. Alorie Gilbert has a story today that quotes some customers contradicting Benioff's 'minor' characterization. I heard from a large salesforce.com customer who said that the outage was not minor. He said that for his company the Web interface was sporadically available from about 8:00 AM PST Monday until after 11:30 AM PST. The salesforce.com API (salesforce.com does 100 million API transactions a month) was completely down from 9:00 AM PST until almost 3:30 PM PST, he said. I also heard from a customer who experienced a slowing system and inability to send emails from salesforce.com or to synch with Microsoft Outloook prior to a 30-minute system unavailable condition. 

Salesforce.com's vice president of corporate strategy Bruce Francis responded about the user complaints in an email:

Our customers are entitled to their opinions and we respect that. When you have a passionate community of users, feelings are bound to run high. We have a long track record of excellent reliability, and we never stop working at getting the system as close to 100% as possible.

That said, we know that any time that the service is not available, it's frustrating to our customers, and we sincerely apologize for that. We know that what our customers want is constant improvements in our service, and that's what we are working on today and every day.

I have sent several queries to salesforce.com asking for a full disclosure on the recent outage. As a public (or private) company, salesforce.com should be transparent--providing specifics--about any reliability issues. If it was a 30-minute or several hour outage, what was the cause and how will it be addressed in the future? Is it related to the the rollout of the Winter '06 releases? Did some users experience a more lengthy outage than 30 minutes as some customers suggest? Why the discrepancy? So far, the explanations are insufficient. Benioff is presenting at a Merrill Lynch tech conference tomorrow. Hopefully, he will address the outage issue fully... 

Topics: Salesforce.com

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