Salesforce.com has unveiled database.com, its latest product that brings the enterprise relational database to the cloud; giving it the benefits of a cloud-based platform – automatic resource scalability, maintenance and backups.
Database access is provided via standard web service protocols such as REST, JPA and SOAP, and can be accessed from applications hosted on other servers and platforms. Developers can also design and manage their databases via a web-based GUI.
A similar product is Amazon’s Relational Database Service (RDS), which is essentially MySQL in a cloud. However, while RDS is mostly an infrastructure-based solution that achieves scalability by increasing hardware resources, database.com is an entire database software suite that is designed for the cloud, which also includes the tools for accessing and managing it through web standards.
No doubt the database engine behind database.com is powerful – it’s the same database engine that powers Salesforce.com. However, latency could possibly be a performance bottleneck; imagine if a website has to make database queries to database.com for each incoming webpage request!
Database.com is therefore more suitable for applications that need to crunch huge amounts of data such as for data mining (Business Intelligence applications) and where latency is less of a concern, than say a B2C website where users will close their browsers if they have to wait for more than a few milliseconds.