Posted by Thomas Keeley as Technology
On January 6th, both the “twitter-sphere” and “blogosphere” was enraged with frustration after the traditionally reliable Salesforce.com platform was offline for 38 minutes, bringing many businesses and nonprofits to a temporary standstill.
Salesforce.com, which hosts CRM and other enterprise applications over the Internet for thousands of companies, said on its Trust.salesforce.com community site that the problem thwarted over 177 million transactions in Europe, Asia and North America beginning around 20:39 GMT.
A core network device failed, stopping all data from being processed, according to the site, which provided details about the outage here. Salesforce.com staffers worked quickly to get the system up and running again and did so within an hour of the device failure.
“While we are confident the root cause has been addressed by the workaround, the Salesforce.com technology team will continue to work with hardware vendors to fully detail the root cause and identify if further patching or fixes will be needed,” Salesforce.com said.
After reviewing the daily performance history, particularly the average transaction speed, it appears that this problem is nothing more than a capacity problem versus an overall vulnerability in their system. Though, I guess the argument can be made that in a cloud environment, any downtime is vulnerability.
It should be noted, however, that since the outage, transactions have once again returned to the <.3 average speed (down from .313 on Jan. 5 and .320 on Jan. 6).
So the question I’ve seen many asking, is whether or not cloud computing is truly the way to go? Based on all the hype of given at the Dreamforce conference this past November, it’s a model Salesforce is banking on.
If you’re a major corporation, it’s conceivable that even 39 minutes of downtime could lead to millions of dollars in lost revenue. However, even with the latest downtime, Salesforce.com still maintains an average uptime of 99.99999%, which in my opinion is something that I would be confident in.
In my opinion, when looking at the cost savings, scalability, and security, regardless of these minor hiccups, cloud computing is still a smart solution for organizations of all sizes, including nonprofits.
Just remember that cloud computing (on a widely used public scale) is still relatively new. As is the case with any new platform or technology, there will be hiccups and problems. However, if you’re dealing with a good company (which Salesforce.com is), they will resolve these issues quickly and provide and explanation for why the outage occurred, and more importantly how they’re going to work to prevent it (I’m still waiting for Salesforce.com to do this).
Let’s also remember that one of the biggest pushers of cloud technologies, Amazon.com, has experienced outages much greater than the 38 minutes Salesforce.com users recently dealt with.
While any downtime with Salesforce.com is troubling, by no means is 38 minutes of downtime enough rationale to convince me that they don’t still have the best CRM product on the market.