Are Cloud Customer Relationship Management Systems Reliable?

Salesforce has become a titan in the Information Technology (IT) industry, boasting a staggering user base of more than 150,000 global organisations, including big names like Spotify, AWS, Toyota, and U.S. Bank, who rely on its Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) solution. With this impressive reach, Salesforce has become one of the largest employers in San Francisco and a leading provider of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions worldwide, without a doubt.

Consider the situation where Salesforce faced a countrywide outage – how would you react? Unfortunately, this became a real-life scenario for numerous workers across the globe in 2023, when they were unable to access their CRM on their computers after logging in.

In early May, Salesforce had to deal with an outage that lasted around five hours. Luckily, this happened prior to the quarter’s end for most businesses. Nonetheless, the impact of the five-hour disruption cannot be ignored.

After examining the Salesforce outage, it appeared that a DNS problem played a part, much like the Facebook outage the year before. Thankfully, there were no other significant interruptions since then, which raises the question of the importance of cloud services.

What, Exactly, is the Purpose of Salesforce?

Offering cloud-based solutions for customer relationship management is Salesforce’s speciality, and it provides four primary products to fulfil business requirements for this purpose: Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud, and Commerce Cloud and Platform.

Salesforce’s primary products are highly adaptable, fitting the needs of businesses of any scale, and the company presents a groundwork that allows for the development of add-ons that are compatible. All hosting services are dealt with in-house, removing the requirement for a third-party provider.

By collaborating with a skilled development team, it is possible to personalise Salesforce to meet the particular demands of an organisational setting through the creation of custom add-ons. These can be distributed alongside the Salesforce platform following development.

It is essential to remember that Salesforce applications are constructed with declarative tools, enhanced by Lightning and Apex, a programming language that is exclusive to Salesforce and comparable to Java. Its infrastructure, known as Visualforce, is entirely its own.

Visualforce utilises XML syntax usually reserved for building HTTP pages. For developers to succeed in the Salesforce ecosystem, it is essential to have a comprehensive understanding of both Apex and Visualforce. Given the complexity of these two languages, Senior Salesforce Engineers command an average yearly salary of $130,000.

Salesforce provides a platform called AppExchange, which enables users to purchase and install third-party applications, such as voice solutions, surveys, analytics, and meetings, among others. This is analogous to an online application store in principle.

Salesforce is undoubtedly an excellent example of cloud computing, with its sophisticated functionalities and extensive range of features providing numerous opportunities to boost an organisation’s output. Nonetheless, it is also worth examining the advantages of this service from an alternate standpoint.

How Frequently Has Salesforce Experienced Global Outages?

Over the last several years, Salesforce has endured three major outages, with the first happening in May 2023, followed by the second in August, and the third being the DNS problem we previously discussed.

Large-scale power outages are relatively uncommon, so it is necessary to acknowledge this when evaluating the situation further. Salesforce is a multifaceted network that incorporates numerous safeguards, such as backups, failsafes, and redundancy, to ensure minimal data loss and mitigate extended outages.

Nevertheless, Salesforce has a track record of being sluggish at times, with disconnections and latency that, in some cases, may be just as disruptive as a genuine outage.

During May 2023, customers of Pardot, a SaaS marketing automation application, experienced an interval of downtime as a result of a database script problem that authorised unauthorised personnel to gain access to all company data.

Salesforce took the necessary step of suspending all affected accounts temporarily to secure the organisation’s data, resulting in a significant portion of their user community being unable to use their services for over 15 hours.

It is also worth noting that this incident happened on a Friday, obliging many businesses to work additional hours over the weekend to compensate for the inconvenience.

During August, a power outage resulted in some customers being impacted for multiple hours, starting at 9am. The Salesforce team worked tirelessly throughout the day to implement a solution and reboot their servers, effectively rectifying all connection problems.

It is unfortunate that we have a limited understanding of the cause of this specific occurrence. While it is comprehensible that the engineers are striving to pinpoint the underlying reason, the lack of information and feedback has an adverse influence on our standing as a service provider.

Slack, which is a Salesforce platform, has encountered more downtime than anticipated in recent times, which is a considerable worry due to the platform’s widespread utilisation in numerous organisations.

Enquiring, “Is it Worth the Risk?”

Some years ago, when our organisation had partnered with a service provider, I was in charge of managing the decommissioning of our CRM software. On a Friday evening, as I was about to finish my workday, the Sales Manager got in touch with me.

Before the conclusion of the quarter, our service provider suffered a momentary disruption, providing the sales team with only a limited amount of time to complete any outstanding tasks. I acted quickly to restore the previous systems and activate the servers briefly, for roughly two days. Luckily, we were able to avoid a possible catastrophe just before midnight.

The incidents that accompanied the Salesforce outages emphasised the potential hazards linked with the loss of remote access. There are various factors that could potentially result in a connection disturbance, in addition to issues with the service provider.

Moving our operations to the cloud entails sacrificing some degree of independence. However, in exchange, we obtain cost-effectiveness, access to a wide range of services, and the potential to build customised solutions with or without a dedicated software development team.

Cloud and platform services are swiftly becoming commonplace. Contracting out technological solutions can be profoundly beneficial for firms; it removes the need for server maintenance, backup creation, hardware upgrades, and the hiring of a team of server engineers.

Being prepared for potential power outages is crucial, as they may still arise. To safeguard your organisation from this danger, it is advisable to maintain local copies of data, set up frameworks and protocols for prolonged outages, and seek guidance from experts in the field.

Hosting a server or collaborating with a third party necessitates being ready for any eventuality. While it’s vital to remain upbeat about the best possible outcome, it’s also wise to be prepared to tackle any negative contingency.

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