UK users escape Salesforce.com outage woes

CRM company says that the severe outages that hit its services on Tuesday appear to be confined to the US

UK users of Salesforce.com's CRM systems appear to have avoided the worst effects of the outages that hit the company's hosting servers on Tuesday.

The outages were intermittent for several hours, affecting users who rely on the Salesforce system to give them up-to-the-minute information on services and customers during the pre-Christmas rush.

While there were many reports of outages in the US, a company source told ZDNet UK that the outages "appear to be a US thing".

On Wednesday the company issued a statement admitting to the problems, saying that some "users experienced intermittent access (between approximately 9:30 a.m. and 12:41 p.m. ET and 2:00 p.m. and 4:45 p.m. ET) on one of the company's four global nodes".

According to Salesforce, "the root cause of the intermittent access was an error in the database cluster".

Salesforce's systems are built largely on the Oracle database and Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison was one of the initial backers of the company. The company said it has "addressed the issue with the database vendor", but didn't give further details.

System outages of this type are a major worry for companies such as Salesforce.com, which is one of a few suppliers relying on an on-demand model. Its systems are only available as a Web service, something avoided even by other on-demand vendors.

Earlier this month, Microsoft launched a completely revised version of its CRM product, Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0. Despite much speculation, the product only offers an on-demand model through partners, avoiding leaving users reliant on a Microsoft-supported Web site.

Some users of Salesforce have suggested that the company's upgrading scheme has eaten away at reliability. The company upgrades its software three times a year, and then forcing all customers to upgrade through the central servers.

"Salesforce's up-time continues to slip as they implement new features and add complexity," one user told ZDNet UK. "Each new release reduces their system's robustness."

The company said on Thursday that this week's problem was an isolated event and that all four of its global nodes are "currently operational and running normally". "There are no outstanding issues in the system at this time," the company stated.

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