Grid Grief Grounds Salesforce
Salesforce.com experienced a global outage early Tuesday, the second major outage in two weeks for the CRM company.
Salesforce.com customers in the company's NA1, NA5, NA6, CS0, CS3, CS1 and CS12 regions lost access starting just before 1 a.m. Pacific time on Tuesday. Access was restored gradually, returning to full online status by about 10:30 a.m. Pacific time.
Due to the time during which the difficulties began, the outage mainly affected customers in Europe. Many expressed their frustrations via Twitter. Salesforce.com users also experienced an outage in late June that the company said was triggered by a fault in the company's storage tier.
Tuesday's loss was caused by a power outage at an Equinix data center, according to a Data Center Knowledge report.
Salesforce.com declined to provide details beyond its real-time information on system performance at trust.salesforce.com. Equinix did not respond to our request for comment.
Salesforce.com's latest disruption is the latest in a string of recent online service hiccups. The downtime can wreak havoc on a company's bottom line, said Peter Asmus, energy expert at Pike Research.
"For many of these really high-tech companies, even one second of a power outage can mean a huge loss," he told CRM Buyer. "For a big company's salesforce, that can mean literally millions of dollars, and it's going to be those high-tech ones that are driving changes to the system."
Companies such as Salesforce.com and others that rely on online transactions to power its services are increasingly aware of the growing need for reliable power sources, including backup plans and crisis management, said Sakis Meliopoulos, professor at the school of electrical and computer engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology.
But without significant changes to the system, said Meliopoulos, online consumers might have to get used to more frequent failures.
"The bottom line is that these power outages will occur with present designs," Meliopoulos told CRM Buyer. "And since the number of data centers has dramatically increased, and it will continue to increase as we live in the digital era, the power outages will be felt more and more by the general public."
Catching Up on the Regulatory Side
In order to combat a growing number of power outages, the U.S. needs to catch up to the world in providing a powerful energy system, said Asmus. The U.S. falls behind other countries, he said, in part because of a spread-out geography, never having to rebuild infrastructure after World Wars and a lack of regulations.
"For an industrial country, the U.S. has one of the weakest grids compared to somewhere like Japan or Europe," he said. "We also don't have the same market integration that they do."
In addition to the U.S. being behind on global power grid innovations, it also faces an increase of natural disasters, bringing the problem further into the spotlight.
"Storms are increasing, natural disasters are up, and we're seeing tons of hurricanes, tornadoes and heat waves over the past few years," he said. "That means power outages will go up and there are going to have to be some regulations that are put in place to help those."
Salesforce.com responded the best it could given the situation, Asmus said, by working swiftly to update its customers and get the system going. But to combat the larger problem of providing sufficient energy to an ever-growing online consumer base, a combination of regulations, policy initiatives a focus on microgrids and other energy alternatives need to be continuously explored and implemented, Meliopoulos added.
"The solution is to continuously work to improve the reliability of the power supply system for data centers," he said.