Those not initiated in the mysteries of databases, i.e. most of us, may think that Amazon.com's new SimpleDB service is competition for established databases from Microsoft, Oracle, and IBM. It's not. Nor is it, in the lofty language of Web-computing evangelists, a "cloud-based" alternative to large Web databases. But it's probably a perfect match for your stupid Web 2.0 startup, which makes it a genius move by Amazon.
SimpleDB lacks some of the most basic features of "relational" databases, the entrenched enterprise products which pay the salaries of those pasty sysadmins who natter on for hours about stored procedures and triggers when you just want them to run a report. As Uncov has smartly observed, SimpleDB is 18 times less efficent than other databases.
But that's not a bug, that's a feature. Amazon has designed a database which transmits data inefficiently, and then charges users by the amount of data transmitted. The MBA who put together this business plan deserves a raise. This isn't a database; it's a Ponzi scheme. One designed to transfer money from venture capitalists to Amazon.
So who's the patsy? Well, startups who have already gotten hooked on Amazon's other cloud-computing services, like S3 (storage) and EC2 (computing). They're a natural target. Amazon helps them get up and running with a proof-of-concept website. Never mind that it won't scale cost-effectively. By the time a real CTO gets hired and figures that out, they'll already have raised $40 million from unwitting venture capitalists. In the meantime, the startuppers get to tell users that their data is safely stored with Amazon, a name consumers trust. Win-win-win.
SimpleDB's perfect for anyone who's not aiming to serve millions of users. In other words, most of the Web 2.0 startups today that won't be around two years from now. If your ambitions are low, your technical skills lower, and your sense of shame lower yet, Jeff Bezos has the database for you.