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Don’t be an aaS

  
  
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Much of cloud computing terminology is based on the notion of ‘as a Service’ (or ‘aaS’).

Cloud Landscape: Cloud Databases Emerging Everywhere

  
  
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2011 has been the year of the Cloud database. The idea of shared database resources and the abstraction of underlying hardware seems to be catching on. Just like Web and application servers, paying-as-you-go and eliminating unused database resources, licenses, hardware, and all of the associated cost is proving to have attractive enough business models that the major vendors are betting on it in significant ways.

The recent excitement has not been limited to just the fanfare around "big data" technologies. Lately, most of the major announcements have come around the traditional relational, table-driven SQL environments Web applications make use of much more widely than the key-value pair data storage mechanisms "NoSQL" technology uses for Web-scale data-intensive applications such as Facebook, NetFlix, etc.

Here are some of the new Cloud database offerings for 2011:

Saleforce.com has launched Database.com, enabling developers in other Cloud server environments such as Amazon's EC2 and the Google App Engine to utilize its database resources, not just users of Salesforce's CRM and Force.com platforms. You can also build applications in PHP or on the Android platform and utilize Database.com resources. The idea is to reach a broader set of developers and application types than just CRM-centric applications.

At Oracle Open World a couple of weeks ago, Oracle announced the Oracle Database Cloud Service, a hosted database offering running Oracle's 11gR2 database platform available in a monthly subscription model, accessible either via JDBC or its own REST API.

Earlier this month, Google announced Google Cloud SQL, a database service that will be available as part of its App Engine offering based on MySQL, complete with a Web-based administration panel.

Amazon, to complement its other Cloud services and highly used EC2 infrastructure, has made the Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) available to enable SQL capabilities from Cloud applications, giving you a choice of underlying database technology to use such as MySQL or Oracle. It is currently in beta.

Microsoft also has its SQL Azure Cloud Database offering available in the Cloud, generally positioned as suited for applications that use the Microsoft stack for developers that will want to leverage some of the benefits of the Cloud.

Onward & Upward for Cloud, SAAS, Salesforce.com

  
  

Salesforce.com is holding its Dreamforce event this week in San Francisco, and its staggering run continues to show no signs of slowing. The conference is Salesforce's eighth and largest ever, with twenty-two thousand attendees. Salesforce and its CRM "Sales Cloud" has always been one of the poster-children for SAAS, and is now riding the Cloud wave higher and higher. It was a product offering originally geared towards SMBs with minimal IT staff but now has penetrated companies of all sizes with its annual revenue run rate of $1.7 billion USD.

The use of the product at large companies is a clear signal. It was very telling during the keynote that half of the enormous audience raised their hands when Marc Benioff, Salesforce.com's CEO, asked how many in the keynote hall were from companies with 1000 or more employees. This is solid evidence that SAAS, and the Cloud, or at least the Salesforce.com version of the Cloud, has arrived emphatically in the enterprise and is growing there at great speed.

Salesforce has not only been a success for the company itself, but also for its hundreds of technology and product partners, many of which are at the expo with booths (including StrikeIron). Many of these partners have fared well providing add-on capabilities (like our native, Force.com data verification/quality services for Salesforce) to the core CRM and related-product suite. For example, there has been an 82% increase of application installs from the partner AppExchange this year versus the same time last year, nearly doubling the usage of partner applications and add-ons.

Some other feathers in the Salesforce cap:

In addition to its recent nine-figure acquisition of Jigsaw (a giant, crowd-sourced database of business cards), a $212M+stock acquistion of Heroku, a Ruby-based platform-as-a-service play was announced this morning.

Customized Mappings a Key Feature of StrikeIron's Integrated Salesforce.com CRM Solutions

  
  
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CRM success is heavily dependent on the accuracy and comprehensiveness of data within the CRM system. Incomplete or inaccurately collected data can significantly impact CRM ROI if account reps have to spend a lot of their time tracking down correct information about a prospect or chasing down prospects who are difficult to find or no longer employed by the organization being pursued.

StrikeIron has several applications available on the AppExchange that are natively integrated to Salesforce.com using the Force.com Cloud platform. These solutions can go a long way in helping an organization greatly improve the quality and completeness of the contact data that exists within their Salesforce.com data, making it easy an natural part of the data collection process.

StrikeIron at Informatica World This Past Week - Showcased Plug-In

  
  
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Members of the StrikeIron team were at Informatica World this week showcasing the new Contact Record Verification Suite Cloud Plug-In we've jointly built with Informatica. It enables high quality, accurate, and current data to be loaded into Salesforce.com from many diverse sources, including flat files, Excel, databases, or other applications such as Oracle's eBusiness Suite. As data is moving from the source data into Salesforce.com, phone numbers, email addresses, and physical addresses are verified, validated, and enhanced using StrikeIron's Web Services. This includes a check against reference "truth" data that it is matched against in StrikeIron's data center - all seamlessly via the Web.

StrikeIron Apps on the Salesforce AppExchange: Verified Data = Good CRM

  
  
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CRM systems are only as good as the data within them. That's especially true with Salesforce.com and their CRM solution products, including their premier sales force automation product Sales Cloud 2 and their call center solution Service Cloud 2.

For example, imagine how much more effective a salesteam member can be if he or she has complete, accurate, and up-to-date information on contacts they are about to reach out to. Optimizing the time and effort of the sales team can provide significant dividends to the bottom line.

Also, there is nothing more frustrating for example than typing a well-though-out email only to have it returned as undeliverable fifteen minutes later. Bad addresses and bad phone numbers can be just as agonizing.

When marketing to the gold mine of contacts that exist in your CRM system, the quality of data can be the difference in a successful campaign or a failed one. No matter how good the message or offer is, if it's not reaching the targets, it's not going to do well.

Because of this, a couple of years ago we integrated several of our data-as-a-service Web APIs into Salesforce.com, optimizing our capabilities within Salesforce.com. We are gradually improving them over time as customers put them to use in a broad range of industries.

The four services that are currently integrated, customized for the Force.com platform, and available on the Salesforce.com AppExchange include:

US Address Verification - ensuring accurate, validated addresses within your Salesforce system (including adding additional data like county and latitude and longitude)

Global Address Verification
- includes address verification for hundreds of countries around the world

Email Address Verification - ensuring email addresses within Salesforce are valid and deliverable (without having to send an actual email)

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