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Salesforce Adds Database-as-a-Service Offering And Free Chatter

Salesforce.com, known for its sales force automation and customer relationship management capabilities, is now adding a database offering. The company introduced Database.com at its Dreamforce 2010 conference in San Francisco.

Benioff touted the benefits of incorporating social media features into enterprise applications with such offerings as Salesforce's Sales Cloud 2 and Service Cloud 2. With Sales Cloud 2, sales representatives can use the community to answer a prospect's questions to close a deal, and Service Cloud 2 can resolve customer support questions after a sale. "Why isn't all enterprise software like Facebook?" Benioff asked.

But while software-as-a-service (SaaS) or platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offerings from Salesforce may have their appeal, enterprises need help integrating the cloud with their legacy software, says Rick Nucci, chief technology officer of Boomi, a software integrator. Nucci says integration can be a significant impediment to adopting cloud computing.

"People try to use legacy integration software to integrate with the SaaS implementation, and you have to keep in mind that those integration products were built before cloud was really around. So they were not built to really understand the significant difference, which is that the data you're integrating is traveling outside of your enterprise into someone else's data center," Nucci says. Boomi was recently acquired by Dell.

Benioff fired another salvo at rival Oracle during his keynote address, challenging Oracle's claim as a leader in cloud computing. At Oracle Open World in September, at the same Moscone Center venue, CEO Larry Ellison unveiled Oracle's Exalogic Elastic Cloud system, dubbed a "cloud in a box." Benioff says a cloud in a box is a contradiction, but Ellison responds that even if a customer uses cloud services, there has to be hardware somewhere to deliver the compute cycles. At Dreamforce, Benioff declared, "Beware of false clouds," as a photo appeared of an Oracle server rack with a Salesforce logo partially covering the Oracle logo.

On Wednesday, Salesforce announced the acquisition, for $212 million cash, of Heroku, a provider of a cloud application platform for developing applications written in the Ruby programming language. The acquisition is expected to be completed by the end of January 2011, Salesforce says.

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