The glitch that stole salesforce.com

Salesforce.com didn't act quickly enough to explain to users what was going on when it suffered an outage yesterday.
Written by Phil Wainewright, Contributor

Pity tech consultant and blogger Jason Klernow, who has lost the use of both his blog and his sales automation service in the past week, as he reported on his blog yesterday:

"Salesforce.com has been down for most of the day.  No information at all on the outage.  Only one other posting from Sales Force Watch.  Why can't the company put up a simple web page with update information?

"Typepad (which I use for this blog) was out earlier this week and was quick to provide information and updates.   While I can live without typepad for a day or several, it is hard to work without Salesforce.com."

Today, news of the outage has hit salesforce.com's share price, and only now has the company issued a statement to explain what went wrong:

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.

All four global nodes are currently operational and running normally.  There are no outstanding issues in the system at this time. No other aspects of the system were involved.

Although it appears that the outage only affected a minority of customers, those customers deserve an explanation, and should have had one faster. As one user told CNET yesterday:

"I wonder if we're in the cheap seats," [Charlie Crystle, CEO of Mission Research in Lancaster, Pa] said. "I wonder if the small customers get relegated to a cheaper service solution or something like that."

There's even a new blog called Gripeforce:

"I have started this blog as a forum for other disgruntled users of Salesforce.com!

"I am sick of all the downtime, tired of the arrogant sales people (I feel like CS only contacts me when they want to sell more licenses), and if I never hear or see another interview with Marc Benioff again, it will be too soon."

All of this simply reinforces the message that it's not enough, as another provider has been boasting to me in an email today, to "have historically achieved 99.996% uptime." What's more important is to have a plan in place to contact and keep customers informed when the unthinkable 0.05% of uptime unexpectedly wipes out their service for hours at a time.


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