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4/7/2006
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Salesforce.com Crashes Again

The online CRM vendor's status page described the outage as having begun yesterday morning and attributed the problem to a cache server overload. The outage lasted most of the day.

Just one day after issuing a press release hailing its high uptime over the past month, Salesforce.com suffered a serious crash that left its hosted CRM service unreachable for much of Thursday.

Salesforce.com's status page describes the outage as beginning at 8:11 a.m. PDT yesterday, and attributes it to a cache server overload. Restarting the servers failed to resolve the problem, dragging the fix time out beyond Salesforce.com's initial estimates. Customer reports suggest the outage lasted several hours. Salesforce.com's official report does not include a duration.

The outage's timing was particularly unfortunate for Salesforce.com, which is trying to shake off questions that arose about its reliability after a spate of major outages in December and January. It not only followed on the heels of Salesforce.com's prematurely celebratory uptime statement (absent from its press-release page), but coincided with rival NetSuite's version 11 launch.

JMP Securities analyst Pat Walravens had harsh words for Salesforce.com on Friday morning following the crash. "To have this kind of downtime the very next day [after the press release] raises concerns about Salesforce.com's understanding of its own system issues," he wrote in a research note.

"While we have found very few customers switching because of the reliability issues to date, the downtimes have caused some customers to consider alternatives and slow deployments. Such downtime episodes are also likely to complicate sales cycles with new customers."

Salesforce.com posted an apology for the outage on its status Web site. Company officials were not immediately available Friday morning for further comment.

Salesforce.com's outages have yet to directly hit its bottom line. The company does not offer blanket SLAs on its service, but it has signed performance guarantees for a small number of customers allowing for credits or early contact termination if it falls short. Salesforce.com's most recent quarterly filing with the SEC, covering the fiscal year ended Jan. 31, says it did not pay anything out during the year from its $1.1 million SLA provision fund.

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