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At the DreamForce 2010 event in San Francisco Force.com unveiled their next big thing in the Fat SaaS portfolio "Database.com".  I am still wondering how would they would've shelled out for that domain name.

Now why would a already established SaaS player foray into a key building block like Database? Potentially allowing enterprises to build apps that do not utilize the Force.com stack! One key reason is being seen as the Fat SaaS player with evey trick in the SaaS space under his belt. You want CRM come hither, want a custom development PaaS like solution welcome home (VMForce), want all your apps to talk to a cloud DB and minimize latency by having it reside closer to you cloud apps? You've come to the right place sire! Other is potentially killing foray of smaller DB players like Oracle (Not surprisingly, the Database.com offering is a highly customized and scalable Oracle database) from entering the lucrative SaaS db marketplace.

The feature set promised looks great out of the box for someone who likes to visualize cool new architectures. The ground realities are certainly going to be a lot different considering the SOAP/REST style access patterns in lieu of the comfortable old shoe of SQL. Microsoft suffered heavily with SDS (SQL Data Services) offering in early 2009 and had to pull the plug on the product only to reintroduce as a simple SQL Server in the cloud, SQL Windows Azure. Though MSFT is playing cool by providing OData semantics to work with SQL Windows Azure satisfying atleast some needs of the Web-Style to a DB.

The other features like Social data models including Profiles, Status updates, feeds seem interesting as well. (Although I beleive social is just one of the aspects of large scale collaborative computing). All these features start "Free" for devs its a good news but the good news stops here. The overall pricing model of $ per Users per Transactions / Month is highly disproportionate compared to Amazon RDS (Based on MySQL) or SQL Windows Azure (Based on MSSQL). Roger Jennigs of Oakleaf did an interesting comparo based on 3, 10, 100, 500 users and it turns out that Database.com going by current understanding is way too expensive for the services on offer.

The offering may not impact the decision for DotNet shops mulling their cloud stategy or even some Java/MySQL shops thinking about Amazon RDS, however for enterprises having already invested in other force.com offerings this could be a very important piece in the cloud strategy jigsaw. One which would address a key cloud DB issue of "Latency" for them at least it will help having the DB in the neighborhood.

The tooling and "SQL like" access provider drivers (Think ODBC/JDBC) will be available later this year. Progress Software has already announced their JDBC driver stack for Database.com. It remains to be seen how effective the overall solutions proves to be in the longer run but for starts its a important decision towards consolidating Force.com's already strong positioning in the SaaS space.

As always contrasting views are welcome! :)

Posted on Monday, December 13, 2010 2:29 PM | Back to top


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