Salesforce.com Inc., the biggest seller of online customer-relationship management programs, introduced a product that may bring it into closer competition with Oracle Corp., the largest maker of database software.
Database.com, the new software unveiled at a conference today, is a storehouse for information that developers can use to build online applications.
Chief Executive Officer Marc Benioff is branching into new areas, including business social networks, to extend the rally that has almost doubled Salesforce’s stock this year. Database.com will help the company cater to developers who build applications that run across network-connected computers and step up its rivalry with Oracle and other software makers, said Frank Gens, chief analyst at researcher IDC.
“Platforms are moving to the cloud,” Benioff said during a keynote address at the conference.
Database.com will be available next year. Tomorrow, Salesforce plans to introduce a new version of its Force.com software development tools that let programmers more easily write applications compatible with Salesforce, using the Java programming language, Benioff said.
Database.com may put pressure on Oracle to release an online version of its database software next year, Gens said.
Carol Sato, a spokeswoman for Redwood City, California-based Oracle, didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Salesforce, based in San Francisco, rose 1 cent to $145.24 at 4 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. It has gained 97 percent this year.
Developers will be able to use Database.com, introduced at Salesforce’s Dreamforce conference, with online services from Amazon.com Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Google Inc., said Ariel Kelman, vice president of product marketing at Salesforce.
Microsoft sells an online database for cloud computing called SQL Azure, and Amazon’s Relational Database Service is part of its Amazon Web Services set of cloud computing products. Salesforce said it uses Oracle’s database software.
Salesforce’s new offering may help developers create small applications for mobile devices and Web sites, said Jason Maynard, an analyst at Wells Fargo Securities in Santa Monica, California, in a Dec. 7 note to clients.
“This is a nice extension of the Salesforce.com platform,” said Maynard, who has a “market perform” rating on Salesforce shares. It “isn’t a replacement for enterprise class products from Oracle or IBM.”
Appeal to CIOs
Salesforce partners Informatica Corp. and Progress Software Corp. are supplying software that can help customers load data into Database.com.
Salesforce’s diversification into new products is making the company more important to chief information officers, said Brendan Barnicle, an analyst at Pacific Crest Securities, in a research note yesterday. Barnicle, based in Portland, Oregon, has an “outperform” rating on the shares.
Under Benioff, Salesforce has released Force.com and an online marketplace for business applications. In June, the company began offering its customers software called Chatter for building online networks to let their employees communicate more easily.
Salesforce’s revenue may increase 22 percent to $2 billion for the 2012 fiscal year, which begins in February, according to the average estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.