When it comes to building apps in the cloud, there are a few paths to take. Developers can utilize bare-bones platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offerings, and essentially hard code in the cloud much the same way they would on their own servers. The benefit here is that development and test environments are readily available and scalable, as is the eventual run time environment once these hard-coded apps are pushed live. Or, developers can opt for no-coding necessary platforms like Caspio. The platform allows developers, or even non-developers, to build based on configuring, not coding. And, all the same benefits of scale and readily available environments exists.

While it may simple come down to choice, there is also a significant cost implication to consider. I looked at some of the costs of developing applications on salesforce.com’s Force.com and database.com platforms, and was frankly surprised at the level of real costs associated with getting an app out the door. It was a far cry from the clear, affordable pricing we offer at Caspio.

Before I begin this comparison, I should note that I have had a long relationship with salesforce.com. To be clear, I think they make some great products, especially in the area of packaged CRM applications. But even with those applications, costs can quickly get out of hand.

Let’s look at the basic developer license for Force.com. For the sake of brevity, let’s zero in on their mid-tier Enterprise developer license which is priced at $50 per user, per month. This allows users to create up to 10 applications, and create 200 database objects. What is not clear, is whether this is live apps, test and development apps, etc. Let’s say it is live apps. For anyone building apps in the modern, agile manner – 10 applications is not a lot. And 200 database objects is pretty small as well. Finally, and this is the most confusing issue – what exactly is a “user?” If it is identified as a developer, then fine, $150 a month for a few developers to build 30 apps is not that bad. But salesforce.com does not note whether the apps created can be scaled to hundreds, thousands, or potentially millions of users without incurring additional fees.

Now, let’s say you want to build custom databases in the cloud, either to simple manage/store data or to power the custom apps you are building on Force.com. Using the database.com pricing guidelines, I was given a suggested monthly fee of $1240. This was for 10 standard users, a few thousand “light users” and a modicum of records and API transactions. (I was modeling the hypothetical use case around some of Caspio’s media customers, who allow data access to thousands of individuals on their news sites, and store all kinds of records around weather, crime, and other community-information.) What’s more, if I wanted a decent amount of support, I would need to pay additionally for a “Premium Success Plan.”

So, when combining the Force.com licenses with the database.com fees, the total out of pocket for a company looking to make some custom apps was more than $16,500 for the year. I am sure there are discounts off of this list pricing, especially for those companies already using the packaged apps. But this is still a steep price. (And, we did not add in the potential premium for professional-grade support.)

Now, compare this to Caspio. An organization could add unlimited applications, unlimited users, unlimited light users, make as many databases as they’d like, with a huge amount of database objects, for much less. The Caspio Standard plan (which includes technical support) maxes out at $2,988 per year.

Using Force.com and database.com to build apps and store data online can cost four times more than using Caspio.

It should also be noted that with platforms like Force.com, applications need to be coded in a proprietary code developed by salesforce.com. So, not only are costs higher, the time to go live is much longer considering a developer must first learn the Force.com language and then hard code every new app. With Caspio, simply point and click your way to a finished app, in some instances a form or simple app can be created in mere minutes.

Ultimately, it comes down to choice. But for my money and time, I will choose the more cost-effective and user friendly option every time. If you haven’t compared, or at least tried the powerful simplicity of Caspio’s platform, sign up for a free trial today.