salesforce.com is getting into the cloud database business with a new on-demand service, database.com, set to be announced Tuesday at the Dreamforce conference in San Francisco.
Database.com is partly powered by Oracle's flagship database, which has long been used by Salesforce.com. But the service contains dozens of other supporting technologies that constitute Salesforce.com's cloud infrastructure, which now supports some 87,000 customers around the world, said Eric Stahl, senior director of product marketing.
Developers will be able to use the new service as a back end for any type of application, with support for all languages and devices, according to Salesforce.com.
Those applications can also run anywhere, whether on Salesforce.com's own Force.com platform, Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud or other services, thanks to APIs (application programming interfaces) that call into Database.com.
In a demonstration, Stahl ran through a number of use cases, such as an application written in PHP (hypertext preprocessor) running on Amazon Web Services, while surfacing data through Facebook and calling into a Database.com instance for information. "We're not talking about simple apps with a form on the front end," he said. "These are the kind of apps people want to build."
One Database.com instance, such as for a recruitment database, could serve many endpoints, from a corporate website to a mobile device application, Stahl said.
While the service could cater to such emerging application architectures, Salesforce.com expects to sell it based on time-tested, enterprise-friendly features such as SSL encryption, single sign-on and advanced security. Customers will also benefit from the system's automatic scalability, tuning, backups and upgrades.
In addition, Salesforce.com will offer some additional features on top of the core service, such as a pre-built "social data model" with aspects for user profiles, status updates, feeds and other entities. Along with a set of "social APIs," developers will be able to create applications that work with the model.
Customers also get an administrative console as well as ETL (extract, transform and load) tools for putting data into the service. There will be language-specific toolkits for Java, .NET, Ruby and PHP; mobile toolkits for iPhone, iPad and Android; and platform tools for Google AppEngine, Google Data, Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, Facebook and Twitter.
A basic version allowing up to three users, 100,000 records and 50,000 transactions per month will be available at no charge. Costs rise US$10 per month for each chunk of 100,000 records and another $10 per month for each additional set of 150,000 transactions.
An additional set of optional Enterprise Services, which include user identity, authentication and row-level security, will cost $10 per application end-user per month.