Blurring the functional line–Zoho CloudSQL merges on-site and on-cloud

Zoho CloudSQL overview

Zoho's CloudSQL Concept map

This morning, Zoho announced the release of their CloudSQL middleware technology–a powerful pipeline between on-site applications and the cloud.

While consumers found the switch to cloud computing relatively simple, enterprises continue to struggle with the lack of powerful data-portability structures.

SAAS systems seldom provide an easy and reliable way to transfer information to and from traditional on-site applications. By creating an SQL-based pipeline between the cloud and on-premise systems, Zoho hopes to solve this problem.

It’s an interesting play–combine a well-known database language with a new cloud-based back-end. As Zoho’s blog explains:

The problem is that there’s a fundamental mistake people make when they think of SQL: they think of the access language and the retrieval/storage mechanism as one and the same. But they can in fact be separated. SQL can be used to describe the data and relationships being accessed. The backend (the engine that actually handles the data) can be anything.

This is another step in Zoho’s steady march toward increased data portability. Except now they’re opening everyone’s walled gardens–their blog post states, “[CloudSQL] allows customers to interact with their data on the cloud, from another cloud application…” With this SQL pipeline, a company can seamlessly connect legacy systems and cloud-based systems. (Example: Microsoft Office connected to Google Apps connected to Zoho Office.)

While Zoho’s CloudSQL technology is the first marriage of SQL and cloud-computing, expect further innovation as the functional differences between traditional on-site systems and cloud-computing continue to evaporate. Paradoxically, better pipelines simultaneously simplify and de-incentivize migration from one system to another. Instead of picking between two applications (each with only half the desired features), you can now use both–the pain of connecting them is minimal.

For now, the CloudSQL technology is only available for Zoho Reports, but expect more Zoho services to follow suit. The diagram below illustrates the potential of the CloudSQL model:

Their blog post explains more – The Future of SQL in a SaaS World: Announcing Zoho CloudSQL.