Netsuite Back Online After Cloud Apps Outage

Netsuite was hit with a service outage Tuesday that rendered its cloud-based applications inaccessible to customers worldwide, although it's still unclear how many were affected.

Tim Dilley, executive vice president of worldwide services at Netsuite, says the company's cloud apps were down completely for 30 minutes and some customers may have experienced sluggish performance for some time afterwards.

The outage was caused by a network issue the company has yet to definitively identify, and for technical reasons, it's impossible for Netsuite to estimate how many customers were affected, according to Dilley.

"Our network system and diagnostic system caught it before customers saw it, and we've been able to get service completely restored" Dilley said. "It had something to do with the network, but our senior operations staff is still detailing exactly what happened."

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SMB Nation, a Netsuite customer in Bainbridge Island, Wash., began experiencing sluggishness and partial page loads of Netsuite apps at around 10 a.m. PST. At noon PST, Netsuite apps became completely inaccessible and stayed that way until around 2:30 PST, according to Chris Bangs, business development manager at SMB Nation.

Bangs was unable to get through to Netsuite's support line but says he did manage to get in touch with an employee from corporate, who confirmed the outage and said Netsuite was working on a solution. As of 4 p.m. PST Tuesday, Bangs hadn't had any official communication from Netsuite on the outage.

Cloud vendors are under growing scrutiny and they're facing calls to be more open and communicative about outages. Netsuite has a solid track record for reliability, but in this case, there seems to have been some ambiguity about whether the company did enough to alert customers.

A Netsuite spokesperson said company policy is to immediately notify customers when outages occur through its external Web site. This initial warning typically includes information on the cause of the outage and the approximate number of customers affected. Afterwards, once it has discerned the cause, Netsuite follows up with a written explanation.

Next: Netsuite Explains Notification Policy

The spokesperson told that Netsuite did notify customers of Tuesday's outage through the Web site. However, it's impossible to verify that now, because as of 5 p.m. PST Tuesday, the Website didn't reflect today's outage. According to the spokesperson, Netsuite typically posts a warning during the outage and then removes it once the problem had been fixed.

Netsuite may have fulfilled its basic duty to inform customers in this case, but right now at least, a customer wouldn't know that an outage had occurred from looking at the site.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing: It may just be that Netsuite hasn't had many outages and is still refining how it responds to them.

"The interesting part is that this is an unusual occurrence," said Dave Rice, CEO of True Cloud, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based solution provider that has partnered with Netsuite for the past two years. "I think when you're running an operation of Netsuite's size, it's customary to direct your attention to solving the problem first and then explaining what caused it second."

Steve Jones, CEO of Explore Consulting, a Bellevue, Wash.-based solution provider, received some calls from customers but says the outage appears to have had minimal impact. A nine-year Netsuite partner, Jones says occasional minor outages are just part of the reality of cloud computing today.

"It's never a great situation, but folks who've had to figure out how to get systems back up in the client/server world appreciate that Netsuite has some of the best resources in the industry chasing down the cause of the outage," Jones said.

"Netsuite's uptime is usually rock solid. Cloud technology is what it is and there are going to be outages."