Xeround enters GA, tests the SQL-in-the-cloud water

Xeround’s cloud-based MySQL service enters general availability Monday, becoming the first cloud-based third-party MySQL distribution that actually requires customers to pay for the service. Other SQL services exist, but they’re generally offered directly from cloud providers (e.g., Amazon Web Services’ Relational Database Service or Microsoft’s (s msft) SQL Azure), which puts Xeround in the guinea pig position of trying to convince cloud users they should pay an entirely new database vendor. If it’s successful, there are plenty of other cloud database startups waiting in the wings to ride the SQL-in-the-cloud wave.

Xeround offers an entirely cloud-based MySQL database service that presently runs atop AWS (s amzn), Rackspace Cloud Servers (s rax) and Heroku (s crm). However, the underlying technology is platform-agnostic, so the company promises support for more clouds soon. CEO Razi Sharir told me in an interview Xeround has more than 2,000 customers spread fairly equally between the United States and Europe.

Going forward, its challenge will be converting beta users to paying customers and bringing in fresh users. Sharir cites an industry-wide conversion rate of 5 to 10 percent in terms of getting beta users to pay, and he doesn’t see any reason his company can’t hit the high end of that range. He noted that a good number of beta users loaded live data into Xeround’s service despite its beta status, indicating their confidence in the service. Thus, getting live applications running in the production-ready version shouldn’t be too difficult. Sharir expects to have thousands of paying customers within the next couple of years.

Xeround charges 12 cents per gigabyte per hour for data storage and 46 cents per gigabyte for data transfer. With those prices, customers get a 99.9 percent uptime guarantee, e-mail/web/phone support, and automatic scaling and healing of resources. The way Sharir describes the latter capabilities, Xeround customers needn’t worry at all about adding resources or failing over because the technology is designed to automate everything.

As we’ll highlight in a Structure 2011 panel next week (of which Xeround will be a part), there are a whole ecosystem of cloud database options waiting to make their marks, including fellow SQL-supporting startups such as NimbusDB, GenieDB and Starcounter.

Image courtesy of Flickr user mandiberg.