Salesforce.com: Blame the database vendor

Phil Wainewright writes about the salesforce.com service outage that happened this week.
Written by Dan Farber, Inactive

Phil Wainewright writes about the salesforce.com service outage that happened this week. He inlcudes some comments from victims and salesforce.com's press statement about the problem and resolution. Here is a portion of the salesforce.com statement:

On Tuesday, December 20th,, some salesforce.com users experienced intermittent access (between approximately 9:30 am and 12:41 pm ET & 2:00 pm and 4:45 pm ET) on one of the company’s four global nodes.  The root cause of the intermittent access was an error in the database cluster. Salesforce.com addressed the issue with the database vendor. By Tuesday afternoon EST, the system was running normally for all users.

The sentence in bold (my emphasis) in the carefully crafted statement implies that database vendor (Oracle, I assume) was somehow at fault--an error in the database cluster. It's good to acknowledge the specific problem that caused the outage, in the quest for transparency, but pointing the finger at the database vendor is transparently trying to shift the blame.


eWeek's report includes comments from Bruce Francis, salesforce.com's vice president of corporate strategy:  

"We never point fingers at vendors whenever we have problems," Francis said. "Our database infrastructure is composed of many different components from many different vendors and Oracle is one of those vendors," Francis said. "We don't believe it is good corporate policy to identify vendors" whose products might be involved in a system outage, he added.

The company is pointing fingers, at an 'unnamed' database vendor, rather than focusing more on its own culpability. Salesforce.com, as a full-service hosting, on demand, software-as-a-service provider is solely responsible for what it delivers to the customers, no matter what happens inside its data centers.

The reality is that running your own infrastructure or outsourcing it to a salesforce.com isn't going to always deliver five nines, but procedures and service-level agreements should be in place that protect customer interests, including rebating customers for lost hours of service. In this case, the customer has someone to blame, and point a finger at, other than their own IT department...  

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