's outage obfuscation's outage obfuscation

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

Yesterday I posted about a 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 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 API ( 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 or to synch with Microsoft Outloook prior to a 30-minute system unavailable condition.'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 asking for a full disclosure on the recent outage. As a public (or private) company, 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... 


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  • And to think, they're one of the better ones... seems to be invariably mentioned as a leader in the SaaS industry. If this is what industry leadership looks like, the industry is rotten. I've been saying in these TalkBacks for quite some time that SaaS is bunk; watching blow itself up is just adding weight to my argument.

    Justin James
    • You're saying the *model* is at fault?

      Just because they aren't doing a great job of keeping high uptimes doesn't make the whole *model* bunk. It just means they have issues they, themselves, aren't dealing with properly.

      Most of the Internet is SaaS, it just happens that most of them don't charge for it. Think about Google or any webmail service. They are software applications that could very well be installed on your computer or in your office, but they're, instead, available on the web. Are you saying those are bunk, too?

      Yes, is doing a terrible job of keeping their service up and available, but that's not a problem with the *model*, that's a problem with itself.
  • So is calling their customers liars?

    If a customer says their system was down for 4 hours, the last thing I want to hear from that I'm mistaken and that it was only 30 minutes. I would probably be so mad that I'd be screaming things that I can't say here.
  • Understanding VALUE when its removed/unavaliable....

    When a product is time sensitive and becomes unavailable or useless it's time to step back and reevaluate "Manual" processing for continued business functions. CYA "Just in Case" syndrome. These "customers" should go back to the day when "WWW" didn't do all the thinking... Sure sounds like these "Clients" put all their Eggs in one Basket without a Plan B... Just hope the price was appropriate...