The reports in the press earlier this week of the latest Blackberry ‘outage’ gives cause for concern. The outage came on the eve of three US presidential primaries, hitting politicians and those in the business community alike. Users in North America on Monday experienced delays or were unable to receive emails from around 3.30pm for a period of three/four hours. This is not the only time Blackberry users have experienced issues, the last major outage being in April last year.
Blackberry is not alone in having problems with their service delivery. Salesforce has suffered outages also in the last year – the most recent being reported on Tuesday this week. Google Mail has also attracted criticism where there have been reports of significant email delays over the last week or so.
This is likely to affect the confidence of organisations considering adopting a SAAS (Software as a Service) model for their future business applications. In the case of Blackberry you might argue that a three/four hour downtime is not that bad. However for business users who rely on Blackberries, a delay of this nature can cause serious issues.
Conventional systems where the servers are managed by the company using them are of course not without their own problems. And remote users rely on Internet access to work on any system. Accountants working with offices/companies in the Gulf Countries and India will no doubt be aware that five Internet lines went down late last month – caused it was suggested by a combination of power failure and an anchor cutting two seabed lines. Traffic using these lines was rerouted via other cables but the problem caused serious delays/performance issues whilst the lines were fixed.
Over the coming years SAAS and internet technology is likely to settle down. As more Internet lines are set up the service reliability will continue to improve. SAAS developers should be able to get their products working 100% of the time once their code base and technology architecture matures.
But we are not yet at the point that SAAS vendors offer cast iron solutions – nor where the Internet lines that they use are rock or seabed solid.
Organisations considering adopting new SAAS/mobile technology need to have adequate backup plans for outages which may involve keeping local server based systems on standby. Not helpful for those building a business case for SAAS based on reduced cost!
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