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Database.com - slow and pricy?  

Salesforce has just launched a cloud-based relational database, with the juicy domain name of database.com. This is somewhat similar to Amazon RDS, though it's not SQL-based and doesn't require you to host with Salesforce's force.com platform (to be fair, neither does RDS - but RDS is clearly designed to work with other AWS services).

So what does this mean for a startup selecting its technology stack? Given the free accounts available, is this a new game in town?

No.

First, the pricing is expensive: 50'000 free transactions per month isn't much, and at $10 per additional 150'000 transactions, the costs will rack up rather quickly. An application which needs any kind of significant database support, with a few thousand users, will cost hundreds of dollars per month to run on this platform. Perhaps if the limits were per day rather than per month it would make some sense.

Secondly, and perhaps more important, Salesforce boasts that database.com has "an average response time of less than 300 milliseconds". That is disastrously slow. Typical web apps make several database queries per user request, so that pushes the user response time well above acceptable levels. I hope that 300ms includes the HTTP latency, so that this platform is at least usable with Salesforce's own force.com, but even that much is not clear.

So, is this of interest to startups? Maybe if you develop on force.com, but I have yet to hear of a startup crazy enough to do that. Seems lik database.com is aimed squarely at the "huge, slow and inefficient enterprise app" market.

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