More Database Vendors Enter the Cloud

EnterpriseDB and database start-up company Blist add their names to the roster of companies pursuing databases as a service.

EnterpriseDB has become the latest database provider to place a bet on software as a service.

The Edison, N.J.-based company announced plans Jan. 29 to release a version of its flagship relational database management system built on Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and Simple Storage Service (S3). Meant as an adjunct to Amazon's in-the-cloud database, SimpleDB, EnterpriseDB has named the service Advanced Server Cloud Edition and is launching the beta in March.

"We've been working with Amazon," said Bob Zurek, chief technology officer at EnterpriseDB. "They see this as very complimentary to their efforts...if you look at SimpleDB, it's query only, it's more of a lightweight data service model. For those companies that need to go beyond, which we expect a very large size, for full transactional, supporting multiple schemas...then they can turn to EnterpriseDB."

The company is among a growing group of database companies pushing their software into the cloud as a service. Unlike others, which target primarily small to midsized businesses, Zurek said EnterpriseDB is focused on Web 2.0 enterprises, SAAS companies and independent software vendors.

"We're not targeting an end-consumer who's just like a FoxPro user," Zurek said. "We think SimpleDB is perfect for that."

Blist, based in Seattle, has its sights on a different market in the short-term - home users.

"If you think about all the databases that are in the market today they are all engineered for and marketed to programmers and DBAs," said Blist CEO Kevin Merritt. "Blist is creating a database that is explicitly designed for mainstream users. These are people who are typically using Excel as a database...we are creating a tool to make it easier for this mainstream audience to organize their own data and ask queries and manipulate their own data in ways we think don't exist in the market today."

The company has released a beta version of a Web-based database. Around March, the company will launch a premium database with some additional features targeted at SMBs, Merritt said. Once generally available, the consumer product will have a 100 megabyte limit; the premium database will have virtually unlimited storage, the CEO said.

Part of the company's strategy is to allow consumers to share templates or full data sets with other members of the Blist community.

"On the consumer side, we think one of the drivers of adoption will just be sharing and collaboration and commenting and reviewing and voting and searching and discovering other people's data," Merritt said. "Your data [can be] private, but your data structures are discoverable."

There's a lot of pressure to reduce cost in IT, Zurek said, and some companies have difficulty predicting their storage requirements in the context of data-driven applications. "We want to give them an alternative so as they get more information about the usage statistics, how much data they are going to be needing, as time goes by they can resort to a cloud offering from EnterpriseDB and if they choose they have the ability to move that data...back inside the firewall," he said. "I think over time, you'll see more and more interest in this. It's hard to predict right now, but we're willing to make the investment to pursue this and place a bet, just like Salesforce has placed a bet."