Salesforce.com's Heroku launches standalone database service

The service is based on the open-source PostgreSQL database and offers 'continuous protection' from database failure

Salesforce.com's Heroku division has launched a standalone version of its PostgreSQL-based database, giving developers a "battle-tested" way to build applications with the cloud platform of their choosing, the company announced this week.

"Heroku Postgres has successfully and safely written 19 billion customer transactions, and another 400 million write-transactions are processed every day," Heroku said in a blog post. Customers who use the service can focus on other application development tasks besides database administration, Heroku said.

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The option joins Salesforce.com's previously announced Database.com service, which exposes the database infrastructure within its Force.com development platform.

Salesforce.com acquired Heroku last year, giving it a significant stake in Web and consumer-facing application development to go along with Force.com's business software focus.

Those who choose Heroku Postgres will benefit from "continuous protection" from database failure, according to the blog post. The system "creates multiple, geographically distributed copies of all data changes as they are written," it stated. "If a meteor were to wipe out the east coast, you won't lose your data."

Heroku Postgres uses unmodified, "off-the-shelf" PostgreSQL, it added. "Rest assured that any standard libpq client will run flawlessly on our service. Should you ever decide that you want to go back to being your own DBA, you can; there is no technical lock-in."

The announcement could mean good things for PostgreSQL in general, one observer suggested.

"PostgreSQL is decent and justly popular technology, even if MySQL has been narrowing the technical gap," said analyst Curt Monash of Monash Research. "What PostgreSQL has lacked has been a cohesive, practically-oriented community or a strong corporate steward. Perhaps one or more cloud service providers can fill the gap."

VMware also recently launched a PostgreSQL-based package for cloud deployments.

In addition, EnterpriseDB in August announced a cloud version of its database, which layers additional features on top of the core open-source PostgreSQL code.

Pricing for Heroku Postgres is organized into tiers, starting at $200 per month for a 1.7GB cache up to $6,400 per month for a 68GB cache. All databases come with 2TB of storage, around-the-clock monitoring, daily snapshots and access from any PostgreSQL client.

In contrast, Database.com offers a small number of users and records at no charge, with pricing for users, records and transactions kicking in on a scaling basis once those limits are reached.

"If you want a conventional database, a PostgreSQL offering makes more sense than Database.com," Monash said. "If you're interested in the whole force.com stack, then Database.com could be a great option."

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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