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Update: outage cuts users off

The company blamed 'an error in the database cluster' for the problem

By Stacy Cowley
December 21, 2005 12:00 PM ET

IDG News Service - Inc.'s "on-demand" customer relationship management system came up short in meeting demand yesterday, when some customers found the hosted software service unreachable for most of the day.

It was unclear how widespread the outage was -- while some customers reported no problems with the service, others saw their access cut off early yesterday morning and remain down through most of the afternoon. On the blog, a customer posted a screen capture of the error message he and other users saw for several hours.

The company today confirmed that there were interruptions in system availability between 9:30 a.m. and 12:41 p.m. Eastern time and 2 p.m. and 4:45 p.m. Eastern time on one of the company's four global nodes. "The root cause of the intermittent access was an error in the database cluster," Bruce Francis, vice president of corporate strategy, said in a statement. " addressed the issue with the database vendor. By Tuesday afternoon, the system was running normally for all users."

The company would not identify the database vendor.

One affected customer, technology consultant and entrepreneur Jason Klemow, said it was the first time in the year he has been subscribing to that the service crashed. He was finally able to log into shortly before 5 p.m. Eastern time yesterday, after the service had been unreachable for at least five hours.

Klemow, who works in Gaithersburg, Md., had searched in vain for details from on its outage. No status information was posted on's Web site, and a customer service number offered only a recorded message advising that the company was experiencing technical difficulties, he said.

Klemow said he hopes fills customers in on what happened. In the meantime, he will take steps to prepare for any future outages. "I'm going to do more synching with [Microsoft] Outlook to be sure I have my contacts when I'm off-line," he said.

Although has made a point of branding itself as different, the incident proves that it's susceptible to the same problems that other high-tech companies experience, said Joshua Greenbaum an analyst at Enterprise Applications Consulting in Berkeley, Calif.

"They're supposed to be bulletproof and offer the end of [internally run] software, and they're showing how vulnerable they can be," he said. "You can't blame them. This is the price of being in the high-tech business. It's ironic because was supposed to break the mold -- the outage confirmed some of the mold can't be broken."

Noting that some financial analysts have recently downgraded the value of's stock, Greenbaum said this

Reprinted with permission from Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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