Whenever the internal network goes down at ITN Source, the content sales arm of Britain's commercial TV news network, managing director Sue Thexton tells the sales team to get off their butts and get round to Starbucks.
"They used to say, 'Oh we can't do any work now' whenever the network was down," she told me last night at a private dinner thrown by Salesforce.com for selected European customers and media. Now that their prospect data is hosted at Salesforce.com, she tells them they have no excuse for slacking — they can just pick up their laptops and stroll round the corner to Starbucks.
I liked the story because it tells the polar opposite to what IT people usually say about hosted applications. They're always going on about how dependent you become on external forces once you sign up to a Web-based provider. Yet ITN Source is now getting better availability of its salesforce automation software than it ever had on its internal network, precisely because Salesforce.com is hosted elsewhere.
Another customer chimed in at that point to say, yes our internal network is down at least twice a week. Compare that to the performance of Salesforce.com, as documented on its public system status page at trust.salesforce.com. Even taking into account its well-publicized outages of the past year, there's no contest. "Our IT people told us there's no way they can match the availability that Salesforce.com delivers," said another customer.