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Database.com versus Oracle

Five features for Database.com to get more enterprise friendly in the cloud

Cloud Database as a Platform from Salesforce
Cloud Computing adoption definitely  gets a boost with yet another offering of Database as a Service (DaaS) with the Database.com offering from Salesforce. This will  compliment  the Relational Cloud Offering from Microsoft SQLAzure and Amazon RDS.

With SQLAzure being a 100% Microsoft centric cloud solution and Amazon RDS built on MySQL, naturally the salesforce  cloud database will be looked as an viable alternative for  cloud consumers who wanted to implement a Oracle Like solution  as a DaaS.

So potentially Database.com will be looked upon as an alternative to a ‘In Premise' Oracle to a equivalent on Cloud.

In that context  we would like to  highlight on the following features that will be needed in ‘Database.com'  , potentially once available  the ‘Database.com'  could be a serious competitor to Oracle.

What is ‘Database.com'

  • Database.com is a stand-alone service available via its SOAP and REST APIs to any language on any platform or device.
  • Features include user management, row-level security, triggers, stored procedures, authentication and APIs, all in an easily scalable cloud infrastructure.
  • The product's relational data capabilities include tables, relationships, support for a variety of field types, triggers and stored procedures, a query language and enterprise search.

The initial reading of the technical documents is promising, and provides alternative and choice for the database needs  on the Cloud, however the availability of following features makes it every more ‘enterprise' class and a worthy alternative to Oracle.

1. High Performance Load: The biggest trust on Cloud is the  ability  to   fasten the ‘time to market' for the consumers. Which means that we should be able to  move large amounts of data from ‘On Premise' legacy applications  into ‘database.com', this is only going to be feasible with a high performance  direct path load much like ‘Sql*Loader'  does in Oracle. There is a data loader available with  Force.com but  Direct Path high performance needs should be addressed.

2. Intra Tenant Partitioning : All database.com  data is physically partitioned by Tenant ID. In a multi tenant model  like ‘SalesForce' this is very useful, as it aims at partition pruning at the tenant level.  However in real world  for larger enterprise tenants , we needed to ensure partitioning of data  within a tenant using appropriate range or hash techniques.

3. Tuning Control : While most of the modern databases including Oracle  touts self-tuning capabilities such as ADDM, AWR,  it is also highly desired to give developers the control to tune the application by understanding the query execution plans.  ‘database.com'  provides a  cost based optimizer  using optimizer statistics at tenant level. There are features like ‘MT_FALLBACK_INDEXES' which provides  alternative query optimization at the developer control. However more features to identify  long running queries and tune them  will make it more competitive.

4. Binary Large Objects (BLOB)  & Unstructured Data Types: ‘database.com'  supports  standard structured data types like text, number, date and date/time , sequences, formula ,Boolean etc. ‘Database.com' supports the declaration of fields as a character large objects (CLOBs)to permit the storage of long texts up to 32,000 characters. However  enterprise data model requires  other unstructured data types like BLOB (Binary Large Objects) to storage images, multi media documents and also XML document data types.

5. Security: Enterprise databases like Oracle have heaped on features on  Security  over the period. We also find  several good features with ‘database.com' at this time.

  • Single Sign On / Federated authentication
  • Database profiles for common security settings
  • History Tracking & Auditing Features

However Oracle has features like VPD (Virtual Private Database), Roles, VIEWS, Advanced Security, Fine Grained Auditing which goes further into providing enterprise class security features. Implementing them into ‘database.com' will  improve its security credentials.

Summary
With SQL Azure taking up the  Cloud  incarnation of enterprise SQL Server databases and Amazon RDS taking up the  cloud incarnation of  MySQL databases, ‘database.com' DBaaS platform  gives a  scaled down alternative for Oracle at this time.

Implementation of some of the above features will improve its chances  as a true enterprise database cloud platform, especially for Oracle customers.

There could be some workarounds already available, but we needed to go through further documentation and reference implementations of this platform as  a  database as a service.

Remember, already being  a cloud database some of the time consuming activities of traditional databases are already covered in the  ‘database.com' like,

  • Auto backups without RMAN
  • Elasticity without complex setup like RAC (Real Application Clusters)
  • Availability without complex setup like Data Guard or Stand By databases.

More Stories By Srinivasan Sundara Rajan

Highly passionate about utilizing Digital Technologies to enable next generation enterprise. Believes in enterprise transformation through the Natives (Cloud Native & Mobile Native).

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