Customers Report Major Outage

Updated: Users say's outage problems continue and are becoming more frequent., which has had several high-profile system outages over the past couple of months, is apparently still having issues.

Salesforce.coms servers were down for several hours on Jan. 30, between about 10 a.m. and 2:15 p.m. Eastern, according to customers.

"Theyve had problems all morning," said Mark Siler, vice president of IT at Priority One Financial Services Inc., in St. Petersburg, Fla. "Since they released their winter 06 release, there have been continuous problems."

/zimages/4/28571.gifRead more here about Salesforce.coms rollout of the winter 06 edition of its core CRM application.

Jame Ervin, technical account manager at Dynamic Network Factory, said that things have been moving downhill at for the past couple of weeks.

"Since the launch of Winter 06, the intermittent outages have become more frequent," Ervin wrote in an e-mail to eWEEK.

"There have been mornings where features such as advanced search were unavailable for 45 minutes. Another day where the login server was unavailable for about 30 minutes….Currently the servers are completely down and have been since 10 am Pacific Standard Time."

Bruce Francis, vice president of corporate communications at, said reports of todays outage are "not accurate."

"We were not down for several hours. Thats just not true," Francis said. "Some of our customers experienced intermittent access this morning for about a half an hour.

"The application is running fine right now," he said.

Wall Street has also taken notice of Salesforce.coms performance problems.

While the earlier outages have had little apparent effect on Salesforce.coms stock valuation, there are indications that "this mornings outage is apparently leading to more aggravated customer and prospect responses," analyst Michael Murphy wrote in a First Albany Capital Inc. market update.

From customers views, "the outage experience has transitioned from an isolated event into a recurring trend and the get out of jail free card has been used," Murphy wrote.

First Albany doesnt expect that investors will focus on the outages issue, unless fails to hit its subscriber recruitment targets for the quarter.

First Albanys current assessment is that new subscribers are "tracking ahead of expectations" for the quarter, Murphy said.

This latest outage comes on the heels of a major outage Dec. 20 that brought the companys servers down for six hours.

Then the company confirmed a second, "minor" outage Jan. 6 that affected the companys Europe, Middle East and Africa regions.

In a recent story, eWEEK reported that over the course of a dozen interviews with customers and partners, the company has had sporadic outages over the last year.

/zimages/4/28571.gifTo read more about Salesforce.coms growing pains, click here. CEO Marc Benioff said the Dec. 20 outage was the result of an undocumented bug—the likes of which he has never seen before.

"I have worked in databases for 20 years. And the stuff that happened is not possible. It cannot happen. I dont talk about specific vendors, but the stuff that happened in theory, technically, it should not have happened," said Benioff, during a Jan. 17 interview with eWEEK.

"Thats why it caught us off guard. Now that we know it has the potential for happening, we re-setup our systems so that if something like that started to happen, it wouldnt affect our system like it did."

Priority One Financial Services Siler said hes not aware of what the issues are on Salesforce.coms end, but that he has received all kinds of error messages over the past couple of weeks—Java error, internal server error, server too busy.

At the same time, when he has tried to contact Salesforce.coms support center, he is not getting a response.

"They are probably swamped with calls," said Siler, who said his companys entire sales force went home for the day during the Dec. 20 outage at

"I am not a big fan of [on demand] just because of this," said Siler. "Its hard enough to keep our own systems up, and this just adds to another layer. Were at their mercy, no matter what we want to do about it, theres nothing we can do."

Siler said that when he has spoken with officials in the past regarding issues, he has received the message that the company is spending $50 million on a data center, and doing everything they can to fix any issues.

"Im not saying theyre not doing everything they can, and Im sure they will learn from this in the future, but its frustrating to us when were down today," said Siler.

Melissa Caylor, director of IT at First New England Mortgage, said its really not her Salesforce system thats been down, but rather the API.

"That means that any kind of applications you have interfacing with Salesforce, using their API, you cant connect to them," Caylor said.

"We have a lot of stuff integrated with them, so we cant get new leads into our system; we integrate our loan origination system, so we cant get to that either. It is inconvenient."

Caylor said she has tried to contact Salesforce support for an explanation of the issues, but has not been able to reach anyone.

"Im not trying to wait on hold right now while everyones running around like a chicken with their head cut off," said Caylor.

Editors Note: This story was updated to include additional comments from Salesforce.coms Bruce Francis and Melissa Caylor, director of IT at First New England Mortgage. It also includes more information from Wall Street analyst Michael Murphy.

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