Cloud // Software as a Service
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12/6/2010
08:41 PM
Charles Babcock
Charles Babcock
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Salesforce.com Branches Into Database As A Service

Database.com will offer the same software that serves Salesforce's customer relationship management applications, but will companies buy into a multi-tenant database?

"This is not just existing software but a whole new architecture that makes Database.com possible. The Salesforce.com system for its own applications executes 24 million transactions and stores 20 billion records a quarter." If the multi-tenant approach doesn't work, Salesforce.com customers appear not to have noticed, was Stahl's implicit message.

Multi-tenancy will allow Database.com to offer services at a relatively low, upfront rate. Anyone may sign up for a free database service that's limited to 100,000 records and 50,000 database transactions a month. If users want more service, it comes at the rate of an additional 100,000 records and 150,000 transactions for $10 per user per month.

Informatica and Progress Software are supporting Database.com as partners in the launch. Progress will supply Progress DataDirect Connect drivers for Java applications. They can be used in an early beta version immediately to connect applications to Database.com. A general purpose ODBC driver will be supplied from Progress in the second quarter of 2011.

Informatica will enable customers to move a full corporate database into the Database.com cloud and enable access via mobile devices. Informatica will provide the data integration pieces of that puzzle, the company said.

But using Database.com won't be exactly the same as on-premises relational database. Its native data access language is Salesforce's SOQL. Progress Software has a SOQL to SQL translator, Stahl noted, so customers may write SQL queries directly to Database.com if they wish to.

But the more likely scenario, he added, was that developers will simply invoke the Database.com RESTful API, a lightweight, web service programming interface that calls up a database querying service. The programmer doesn't need to know SOQL or SQL, he said.

This service will still have a long way to go upon announcement. Customers are going to want some of the same data management and database administration tools in the cloud that they're used to on-premises. They'll want to build triggers and stored procedures that work with the new system. Stahl said Salesforce.com is working on them.

But the idea that you can get enterprise level database services at per-user, per-month prices will appeal to some. Startups have already voted for this type of solution as opposed to building their own infrastructure. Some departmental users welcome the chance to go around IT and its strictures to get a service quickly. And some enterprises may decide to tap into the cloud database instead of hiring another database administrator.

Why wouldn't companies that want database service in the cloud wait for Oracle or other database supplier to provide it? Salesforce has more experience in crafting multi-tenant services than Oracle does, Stahl responded. "We are the most trusted name in cloud computing," he said.

The Database.com service will become available sometime in 2011, Stahl said.

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