Outage Effect

Opinion: Will outages slow software as a service?

Online service outages are nothing new. Every service provider from eBay to Google to Microsoft has experienced them—some major, some minor—since the dawn of the Web age. Why then should we care to highlight some of Salesforce.coms recent service disruptions and slowdowns in this weeks issue?

Fair question.

Since 1999, when former Oracle executive Marc Benioff launched the CRM (customer relationship management) software service, Salesforce.com has been a tech innovator and thought leader. Benioff is famous for proclaiming the death of software (as we know it). Early on, we smiled politely and went back to our CDs. But he was right. Software now can be "delivered" as a service to the enterprise more cheaply and reliably than we ever thought possible.

But thats now part of the problem. When companies invest their IT dollars in enterprise or back-office software—software that runs their business—they expect the mythical "five nines" of uptime. As we have seen, Salesforce.com, and just about every other provider of enterprise and consumer software services, is somewhere south of that number. So the questions must be asked: Have we hit the applications ceiling, so to speak, over which we are not willing to trust a hosted solution? And will outages like these slow down development or adoptions of the service model?

The answer, I believe, is no in both cases. We are still in the early growth phase of software as a service in the enterprise. In John Pallatto and Renee Boucher Fergusons report, Salesforce.coms own customers say they believe the company will clean up its problems and likely emerge with an even stronger platform. Still, the disruptions serve to remind IT managers of the importance of business continuity and offline solutions in tandem with online services. Software (as we know it) is dying, but its not dead yet.

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Send comments to scot_petersen@ziffdavis.com.

Scot Petersen

Scot Petersen

Scot Petersen is a technology analyst at Ziff Brothers Investments, a private investment firm. Prior to joining Ziff Brothers, Scot was the editorial director, Business Applications & Architecture,...