Google announced this week an enhanced version of its Cloud SQL database service. The offering is pretty straightforward; it is a MySQL database available to users in the cloud. The enhancements are around scale and performance, which are of course good things in and of themselves. And, the low up front cost further validates the cloud database concept. But, I would argue that Google has simply created a scalable environment for those looking to migrate their database and apps to the cloud. MySQL databases in some sort of hosted fashion have been around for years, and for little up front cost. Google has not really innovated here other than potential scale and speed increases. And as I noted in a post last week, to truly take advantage of the cloud you should be thinking about transformation not simply migration.

Google lending its huge brand to cloud SQL of course validates the concept and value proposition of databases in the cloud. And, by slashing the cost to own and manage big enterprise databases down to nearly zero – it strikes a blow across the bows of Oracle, IBM and even SAP’s ships. Large, on-premise databases are being replaced by cloud-based SQL databases with far more flexible and user-friendly pricing.The big database players have to be worried here, as we have not seen any major product noise that mimics upstart cloud data stores like those from Amazon and Google, mainly for the obvious reason that it cannibalizes revenue. But also, the super low cost of these simple database offerings makes me wonder why anyone would pay the premium for online databases like salesforce.com’s database.com. (If you are already locked into the salesforce.com environment, it might make sense, but I would argue having your data somewhere else in the cloud might free you from some of the lock-in inherent with using salesforce.)

However, by continuing to create a seeming silo between its SQL Cloud and its App Engine (which is certainly not a “no coding necessary” platform), the message is clear. Google is a great tool for highly technical database administrators, developers, etc. working on huge cloud migration projects. But, what about the rest of us? What about those of use looking for simple, complete data and app logic solutions for a low cost and with ease of use and no coding?  The promise of the cloud is democratization of IT and development. By repeating the model and complexity of development in the cloud, what has really changed other than the displacement of compute power?

It is for these reason that I believe Google’s SQL cloud, and the absence of simple cloud app building tools from other software giants – has created the huge market opportunity we see here at Caspio. By embracing citizen developers, non-IT individuals looking for business solutions, and everyone in-between – we have created a platform that blends database and application logic in a seamless, sensible manner. By creating one, simple platform, pricing is clear and simple, unlike other cloud plays where you have to pay for data size, number of applications, users, etc.

Also, what about services and support? Google can offer high uptime and availability, but what about help building new apps on top of its cloud database, or migrating existing systems on to the cloud? Given its size and model, Google is going for volume play on the compute level. Smaller players like Caspio can provide specialized support and services to help non-technical and even technical types build and deploy solutions on the platform, not simply dump data into a new repository that just happens to be in the cloud. In fact, last December we compared online databases in this fashion in a blog post that outlines the high level of service and support in online database tools like Caspio. The high-touch model has a place, especially as smaller businesses and non-profits look to modernize their systems leveraging the cloud, but lack the skill and resources to build in a cloud vacuum. Many need help, and companies like Caspio gladly provide it.

To be sure, there is definitely a place and market for highly monolithic SQL databases in the cloud. Highly skilled IT teams working with vast amounts of data and apps can cut operations costs moving to the cloud, and Google or Amazon are decent options for those huge projects. However, for the vast majority of us looking to build new apps, migrate small and large (but not “big data”sized) databases to the cloud – and do so at a minimal cost without coding, and with some hand-holding from experts where needed – tools like Caspio are a great fit.