Salesforce Outage Raises Questions On Cloud Vulnerabilities

The company made famous by operating their software business in the cloud is now experiencing the great pains when things don’t go as planned. Recently on May 17, Salesforce’s products went down for several days. The problem was pervasive across the companies two highest revenue generating products – Sales Cloud and Service Cloud – and quickly rose to CTO Parker Harris taking to twitter to calm clients.

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For those in the industry either provider or users of SaaS or software in the cloud, it’s easy to dismiss the event as a one off. However, the company that pioneered the model, the biggest and most sophisticated company, not the small startup just making its way, is the one that experienced the outage that it could not easily repair. Apparently, the problem was caused by the deployment and then later retraction of a database script.

While customers were furious and concerned, their businesses were likely able to recover from those four lost productivity days. Salesforce provides a CRM (customer relationship management) tool, so losing access to the tool does not create life or death situations. But what if a SaaS company in the healthcare field was reliant on continuous cloud access and its feed was interrupted? Is the ultimate cost of a human life or lives paid?

What’s become clear from this instance is that all companies should have business continuity policies and procedures in place, particularly when it comes to critical technology resources. One of the most critical resources is a properly functioning data center and backups. Many providers have both backups locally and remotely mitigating the chances of data loss or web sites going down. However, companies need to perform their diligence periodically to ensure continuous functioning.

When companies take their eye off the ball, problems occur, and sometimes these are major multi-billion dollar problems such as cancer-causing baby powder or weed killer. With smart people at the helm of Salesforce, the outage in the grand scheme of things is a minor occurrence that hopefully provides a major lesson that prevents larger problems from happening down the road.