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Posted Dec 7, 2010

Salesforce Jumps Into Database Business

By Kenneth Corbin

Salesforce.com, the leader in customer-relationship management services, has launched a cloud-based database service that figures to bring the firm into closer competition with Oracle.

Salesforce (NYSE: CRM) heralds the new Database.com as the first enterprise-level database service that sits entirely in the cloud, tapping into its established infrastructure to save developers the pain of maintaining and scaling their own in-house technologies.

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

Salesforce made the announcement at its annual Dreamforce conference in San Francisco.

The database offers support for an array of popular languages, inviting developers to connect to the Salesforce cloud with applications written in Java, Ruby, PHP and others.

Additionally, the firm says the Database.com APIs will respond to calls from applications that run on various enterprise cloud platforms, including Salesforce's own Force.com, as well as Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) Azure, Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) and Amazon's (NASDAQ: AMZN) EC2. Then, too, Database.com will interoperate with apps that run natively on popular mobile devices such as Apple's iPad and iPhone and the growing menu of products powered by Google's Android operating system.

Database.com is an extension of Saleforce's existing cloud-computing technology and infrastructure, only separated for the first time to function as a standalone database product. In that sense, Salesforce boasts that the new offering debuts with a proven track record as the engine of its some 87,000 customers' cloud operations, noting that it already has in hand several international security certifications.

The new offering, which is powered in part by Oracle's (NASDAQ: ORCL) own database product, is likely to extend the rivalry between the two companies. Just earlier this year, at Oracle's OpenWorld conference in September, CEO Larry Ellison criticized the multi-tenancy, service-oriented model of Salesforce's cloud services, calling it "horrible" and reiterating his commitment to integrated hardware and software solutions.

Salesforce, by contrast, has been at the forefront of the revolt in IT against in-house hardware and software, and is touting the new database offering as an extension of the "event-driven, push model" that it has helped popularize in enterprise computing.

Database.com also taps into what Salesforce describes as the social data model, offering APIs that developers can use to build networks of followers for certain database records, for instance, or provide a set of users with real-time updates when new data are added.

Kenneth Corbin is an associate editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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