If the new data tier in the cloud service is popular, it could disrupt not only the traditional relational database market, but also the development/PaaS market, the Infrastructure as a Service market, and the middleware/integration markets.
Even more fascinating is the prospect of Database.com becoming a new data services resource darling of open source developers, just as they are losing patience and interest in MySQL, now under the stewardship of Oracle since it bought Sun Microsystems. This is a core constituency that is in flux and is being courted assiduously by Amazon, VMWare, Google and others.
IBM, Microsoft and Oracle will need to respond to Database.com -- as will Google, Amazon and VMware -- first for open source, mobile and start-up developers and later -- to a yet uncertain degree -- enterprise developers, systems integrators and more conservative ISVs.
So, be sure, the race is on generally to try and provide the best cloud data and increasingly integrated PaaS services at the best cost that proves its mettle in terms of performance, security, reliability and ease of use. If recent cloud interest and adoption are any indication, this could be killer cloud capability that becomes a killer IT capability.
Database.com already raises the stakes for cloud storage providers and wannabes: the value-add to the plain vanilla storage service has to now entice developers with meeting or exceeding Salesforce.com. By catering to a wide swath of tools, frameworks, IT platforms and mobile device platforms, Salesforce.com is heading off the traditional vendors at trying to (not too fast) usher their installed bases to that own vendors brand of hybrid and cloud offerings. Think a lock-in on the ground segue to a lock-in in the sky slick trick.
Both Amazon and Salesforce.com have proven that developers are not timid about changing how they attain value and resources. This may well prove true of how to access and procure data tier services, too, which makes the vendors slick cloud segue trick all the more tricky. Instead of going to the DBA for data services, all stripes of developers could just as easily (maybe more easily) fire up a value-added Database.com instance and support their apps fast and furious.
The stakes are high on attracting the developers, of course, because the more data that Salesforce attracts with Database.com, the more integration and analytics they can offer -- which then attracts even more data and applications -- and developer allegiance -- and so on and so on. It's a value-add assemblage activity that Salesforce has already shown aptness with Force.com.
What remains to be seen is if this all vaults Salesforce.com beyond it roots as a CRM business applications SaaS provider and emerging PaaS ecosystem supporter for good. If owning the cloud data tier proves as instrumental to business success (as evidenced by Oracle's consistence in generating envious profit margins) as the on-premises, distributed computing DB business -- well, Salesorce.com is looking at a massive business opportunity. And, like the Internet in general, it can easily become an early winner takes all affair.
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