Today at Dreamforce 2010 event, Salesforce.com announced the launch of Database.com, their enterprise database offering built just for the cloud. Not only they have acquired an awesome domain name but they have also built a robust service from ground up. Even though we have database as a service from providers like Amazon, Microsoft and a few other startups, I think this will be big (I will explain the reasons below). Right now, it is just an announcement and the offering is expected to be available sometime in 2011.
What is Database.com?
Database.com is an enterprise grade database offered as service by Salesforce.com so that users can consume it like other cloud services with metered billing. Salesforce already has the necessary infrastructure to offer a service like this. Their 87000 strong customer data from the existing offerings are already stored in this database and now they are opening the database up for other applications as a service. This service can be accessed from any platform or device using any programming language. Apps can connect to it from AWS or Windows Azure or any other cloud provider/traditional hosting provider. It can also be directly accessed from any smartphone or tablet kind of devices.
They have built this database by combining some of the features of enterprise database systems along with the advantages of the cloud. The fact that it is built with enterprises in mind means that Database.com has received some of the most stringent security certifications in the industry, including ISO 27001, SAS 70 Type II and SysTrust. The fact that Database.com already powers Salesforce.com also means that it is already in use by the enterprises. Some of the features include:
- Highly scalable and highly available
- Relational data store, suitable for many of the enterprise needs
- File storage for documents, video and images
- SOAP and REST APIs
- Social Data Model, clearly based on Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff’s vision on making enterprise applications socially connected. a pre-built social data model for feeds, user profiles, status updates, and a following model for all database records. Their Social APIs will let developers interact easily with the social component of the data
- Automatic tuning, upgrades, backups and replication to remote data centers, and automatic creation of sandboxes for development, test and training
- Enterprise level identity and authentication. Access can be managed using OAuth and SAML
- Row level security, access control at the row level
- An enterprise grade search which works with the organization’s security
- Various toolkits for Java, .NET, Ruby, Python, iOS, Android, Google App Engine, Google Data, Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, Facebook, Twitter and Adobe Flash/Flex
Database.com uses Freemium model and it is competitively priced. It is free for 3 users and up to 100,000 records and 50,000 transactions/month. Beyond that, it has two tiered pricing
- $10/month for each set of 100,000 records
- After 100,000 records, it is $10/month for each set of 150,000 transactions
Why I think it is big?
First and foremost, it is open and can work with any language and any device. Even though there are some startups like FathomDB and Xeround offering similar services, Salesforce.com has the necessary brand name to make a big push to the enterprises. Second, their pricing is very aggressive. When these two aspects are combined with the following unique features of Database.com, we have an offering that has the potential to be the game changer.
- Enterprise Ready Features like Security and Search
- Social Components
- Support for Mobile Devices
Database.com will not just support traditional web applications but also the modern day apps that take into account the collaborative and social nature of the cloud. A database with social and mobile components encourages developers to seek new vistas and develop applications that transform the way enterprise applications are built. For me, this possibility is more interesting than anything else. We have been hearing about Cloud 2 (a marketing term which I don’t like personally because it confuses ordinary users) from Salesforce for sometime now and Database.com is a very important piece for this vision.
But, there is something in this announcement that makes me curious. If my understanding is correct, Salesforce.com uses Oracle databases in the backend (if I remember correct, it is one of the reason why their apps are relatively expensive compared to some of their competitors) and if they are going to offer s “Database as a service” using Oracle, what does it mean to Oracle’s strategy? If Oracle moves in with their own service, how it will affect database.com? When I asked this to Salesforce.com, they highlighted the additional services like Enterprise search that is wrapped around the database itself but it is not entirely convincing for me. These are some of the issues pundits will ponder in the next few days.
Irrespective of the Oracle angle, the release of Database.com is going to have a big impact on the way enterprise applications are going to be developed. Not only that, I am now seeing Salesforce’s long term strategy for the enterprise. The multi-pronged strategy involving Salesforce CRM, Chatter, Force.com, VMForce and, now, Database.com has the potential to push Salesforce as a big player in the future even though they have only “one app” in their arsenal. It will be interesting to see how these things play out in the coming years.
- Salesforce.com Unveils Database.com (pcworld.com)
- Salesforce.com unveils Database.com (infoworld.com)
- Salesforce.com Announces Hosted Service Called Database.com (readwriteweb.com)
- Salesforce.com parks cloudy database over Ellison’s head (go.theregister.com)
- One Database To Rule The Cloud: Salesforce Debuts Database.com For The Enterprise (techcrunchit.com)
- One Database To Rule The Cloud: Salesforce Debuts Database.com For The Enterprise (techcrunch.com)