Salesforce.com to take database to the cloud

Scheduled for general availability next year, Database.com will support applications built in various languages and running on platforms including PHP, Java, Windows Azure and Amazon EC2.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

SAN FRANCISCO--Salesforce.com has unveiled plans to expand its cloud offerings to the enterprise database, offering a basic service free of charge.

Scheduled for general availability next year, Database.com has always been deployed in the backend to support existing Salesforce.com customers but will now be available to enterprises as a standalone service. It will support a range of languages and platforms including PHP, Microsoft Windows Azure and Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2).

The software-as-a-service (SaaS) vendor did not specify when exactly Database.com will be launched next year, but is expected to release it as a private beta first, acording to reports.

Salesforce.com Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff said in a statement released Tuesday: "We see cloud databases as a massive market opportunity that will power the shift to enterprise applications that are natively cloud, mobile and social."

Benioff will likely discuss details of Database.com during his keynote address at the company's Dreamforce conference here this week.

The cloud-based database will support applications built in various languages including Java, C# and PHP, and running on platforms such as Amazon's EC2, Google AppEngine, Windows Azure and Salesforce.com's own cloud platform, Force.com. It will also support applications that run on devices such as Google Android smartphones and Apple iPhone.

For instance, iOS apps built to run natively on the iPhone and iPad, or Google apps written in Java, will be able to connect to Database.com over the Web.

The database includes support for features typically available in enterprise databases such as user management, definition of data security access rules at the row-level, and relational data store. It also features a developer console and pre-built social data model for feeds, user profiles and status updates, and APIs (application programming interfaces) to allow developers to interact with social components within their data models.

Database.com will be offered free for up to three users and up to 100,000 records and 50,000 transactions a month. This basic version will include database access, file storage and automatic administration.

Access beyond the baseline volume will be chargeable at US$10 a month for each set of 100,000 records, and US$10 a month for each set of 150,000 transactions.

Organizations can also choose to add other services under the Database.com Enterprise Services package, which will be priced at US$10 per user per month and will include authentication, user identity and row-level security access controls.

Database.com is not the first database software to be made available to enterprises for free. Oracle's MySQL, an open source database software formerly owned by Sun Microsystems, is also free of charge, as are IBM's DB2 Express-C and Microsoft's SQL Server Express. The Salesforce.com service, however, is the only one among these to be offered on a cloud delivery model.

Microsoft also offers a cloud-based relational database service, called SQL Azure, which is billed on a metered usage basis.

Eileen Yu of ZDNet Asia reported from Salesforce.com's Dreamforce conference in San Francisco, USA.

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