Salesforce puts database into the cloud

The CRM and platform-as-a-service provider is to launch Database.com, an enterprise-grade, on-demand database product
Written by ZDNet Staff, Contributor

Salesforce.com has unveiled a stand-alone cloud database offering called Database.com, to be launched in 2011.

The service, announced at the Dreamforce.com conference in San Francisco on Tuesday, provides a cloud-based database that can be accessed by any application, whether it runs on a cloud platform itself, on a mobile device or elsewhere.

"We see cloud databases as a massive market opportunity that will power the shift to enterprise applications that are natively cloud, mobile and social," said Marc Benioff, Salesforce's chief executive, in a statement.

Database.com will be powered by Oracle's database software, as well as the infrastructure that drives Force.com, Salesforce's platform-as-a-service (PaaS) product. Salesforce's infrastructure has 87,000 customers and has been around for 11 years, according to the company.

In addition, the new service will work with applications written in any language, and those applications can be run on any platform, including cloud products from Microsoft, Amazon and Google, as well as Salesforce's own Force.com.

"Database.com will free developers to spend their time building valuable applications instead of managing and maintaining database management systems and hardware," Salesforce said.

The company is pitching Database.com for applications running on mobile devices such as Android smartphones or the iPhone. An application could, for instance, be written natively for iOS, run on an iPhone and connect securely over the internet to Database.com for information.

Database.com will be able to scale to support hundreds of thousands of users, and a single instance could serve multiple endpoints, such as a corporate website and a mobile application, according to Salesforce.

The service comes with enterprise-grade protective features such as SSL, single sign-on, identity confirmation and anti-phishing tools. It will provide secure access, role- and user-based security, sharing rules and row-level data security.

Its enterprise database features include user management, row-level security, triggers, stored procedures, authentication and application programming interfaces (APIs), such as Soap and Rest APIs for accessing data. Users will also get extract, transform and load (ETL) tools for putting data into Database.com.

In a report in April, research firm Gartner said it was seeing a rise in the popularity of cloud-enabled databases because of their ease of use, but said such products needed to support more enterprise-grade features.

"To truly see adoption in the enterprise... cloud-enabled database management systems (DBMSs) need to support both the speed, ease and elasticity of the cloud as well as the relational, security and transactional features required by enterprises," wrote Donald Feinberg, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, in the report.

Database.com also promises a new developer console, as well as toolkits for Java, .Net, Ruby, PHP and other languages. There are also mobile toolkits for the iPhone, iPad and Android devices, among others. A pre-built social data model provides features of the type popularised by Facebook, such as feeds, user profiles and status updates.

Developers will also have access to automatic tuning, upgrades, backup and replication, and automatic creation of secure sandboxes for development, testing and training.

Database.com will launch as a standalone service sometime in 2011, with a free version supporting up to three users and up to 100,000 records and 50,000 transactions per month. The service will cost $10 (£6) per month for each set of 100,000 additional records, and $10 per month for each set of 150,000 additional transactions.

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