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jlexerjlexer 

Is Force.com the correct platform?

I am looking for help to determine whether Force.com is a good fit for a large-scale Enterprise application.  There are several questions that I have the I have not been able to locate the answers on my own:

 

 

  1. Is there a threshold where the Force.com database may not be a good choice where traditional enterprise relational databases will be a better choice?  The app I am tasked with building will be terabytes of data.  If we imagine the industry of widget manufacturers, this app will serve the to track all the wholesale sales of widgets for every manufacturer.  All widget distributors will load their sales history and the manufacturers will reimburse the distributors for reaching qualifying sales quotas.   The typical user will be a manufacturer that will run reports that will query data at a national level for all distributors in the country.  The data queried would be millions ofrecords.  How can I quantify that theForce.com database is as robust as the major relational databases?  Are there whitepapers that compare the performance of the Force.com db vs. the standard relational db’s?
  2. I am unclear of what the pricing structure would be to my end users.  When I create aForce.com app that has no relation to the Salesforce.com  CRM product, what is the per user costs to Salesforce.com?  What are the storage costs to Salesfoce.com?  This app will likely have a disproportioned number of users to storage.  That is, a small number of users but a large amount of data. I need to project these storage costs to determine in advance the true pricing model for the end users. Also, unlike other compute cloud providers, I have seen no mention of bandwidth or compute costs.  Please confirm it is correct that there are no bandwidth or compute costs for a hostedForce.com application?  I have spoke with a Business development person, but she was non-technical and was unable to answer any of these issues.  

 

Thomas StrohThomas Stroh

I was interested if you ever got any feedback regarding your question. I face very similar issues where we will have a disproportionate number of users to our API/Storage requirements.

 

Regards,

Thomas

jlexerjlexer
Not only did I not get an answer to my question, I could not even find a support channel to ask the question.  When I called the standard support line, they were oblivious to the fact that Force.com even existed.  I know that Force.com could be used for what I was looking to do becuase I know of existing products that are built on it.  However, I determined that if it was this difficult to get an answer, than it is not the platform for me.  My impression of the calls that I had with the "Business Development Manager" was that as a small ISV, they were not interested in my opportunity. Too bad, I launched the product on a self-hosted platform last month and currently have 10,000+ users.  The roadmap is that by the end of 2010, the system will be supporting 100,000+ users.  If anyone has figured out how to speak with someone that has a 'clue' about Force.com, please post it.   I still do not want to be supporting the infrastucture if it can be avoided.
Thomas StrohThomas Stroh

Well, it appears that we are starting to talk with people regarding general infrastructure at SFDC. Our biggest concern has been with API calls & data storage ...

 

API Calls

 

If uploading a lot of data, this is a big concern for anyone. We have optimized this process, so we are not as concerned about these governors anymore. Also, SFDC does offer API calls in 10,000 blocks at a list price of $300/year. Granted, you should confirm that list price.

 

Data Storage

 

This has become our biggest concern and was also one of your concerns on your original post. Every row of data on Force.com will require on average 2 kb of data storage. Doesn't matter if this is a row with a couple of fields or a row with 100 fields. 2 kb might not sound like a lot, but when adding tens of millions and hundreds of millions of rows every month ... you will quickly grow beyond the allocated data storage per userSFDC does offer data storage in 500mb blocks at a list price of $1500/year, but if trying to store Terrabytes of data ... this just doesn't work.

 

Our optimistic estimates of data storage requirements after 2 years comes to 5 TerraBytes of data. We have already been told by SFDC that the platform will NOT handle this amount of data. We are still waiting for more input back from SFDC, but have been told to look into the following ...

 

  • SFDC Analytical Snapshots. We feel this just is NOT an option. It will still take up data storage and forces you to summarize or normalize the data.
  • External data storage systems. Look at leveraging Amazon ECS/S3 or Google App Engine as a means to store historical data. This will require extensive development to not only store the data, but also for maintaining security and accessing this data.
  • Leverage BI Platforms. We have been researching "Business Intelligence" platforms (SFDC is NOT a BI platform!) as a means to provide true trending, dashboards, reporting, etc. These systems can sync up with the SFDC data and provide tight integration with the SFDC platform. Now the question is how much will these system charge to store the TerraBytes of data? I don't have an answer for this yet, but we have been researching Birst, PivotLink & QlikView.

 

Anyway, this is our current status on the platform. It would be great to get other input from people researching this topic on data storage on the Force.com platform.

 

Regards,

Thomas