Interview with Greg Davoll, Software Product Leader at Quest Software

“Open-source is not free, but it’s less expensive than most proprietary offerings”

Gabriela Motroc
open source

Built to reduce the learning curve for developers and DBAs working in next-gen database environments, Toad Edge is a flexible toolset for developing and managing open source databases. We talked to Greg Davoll, Software Product Leader at Quest Software, about the growth of open source technologies and why Toad Edge helps bridge the gap between DevOps and database development.

JAXenter: What is the idea behind Toad Edge? Was there a need for such a toolset? 

Greg Davoll: There are two central ideas behind the new Toad Edge product. One has to do with the persona that we’re catering to, namely the Database Developer. DevOps has fundamentally changed the way applications are developed and launched – today’s database developer can be an application developer who selected the database platform, authored the code, and then helped deploy it into production. It’s also quite common for the developer to be working from a Mac, whereas in the ‘old days’ most of our demand was for tooling on Windows. Toad Edge was crafted with that type of person in mind. We want to make it easier and faster for this new breed of developer to build and deploy a new application using their environment of choice.

The second idea driving Toad Edge was the market and customer movement towards Open-Source Database (OSDBMS) platforms such as MySQL and PostgreSQL. Most of the companies we talk to are using these platforms as a way to extend their legacy applications, develop new applications, or both. In many cases, the open-source database platform is paired up with a database-as-a-service from either Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure. So, we’re seeing more OSDBMS deployed on-premises and in the cloud.

Most technologies, including Open-Source Database platforms, have to prove themselves first with non-mission critical applications. 

JAXenter: The adoption of open source DBMS seems to be outpacing the growth of non-open source environments. Why is that?

Greg Davoll: The most consistent answer we get from our customers is cost. It is less expensive to deploy and maintain an application on OSDBMS platforms. When you factor in all the costs over a three-to-five-year time horizon, the savings can be substantial: up to 90% less expensive.

JAXenter: What is the biggest limitation of open source technologies?

Greg Davoll: To answer this question, I think you have to look at what’s important to most teams when choosing a database platform. Historically, many considerations have figured in the decision: functionality, reliability, performance, availability of DBA resources/skills, cost, and availability of tools. Essentially, is the database platform suitable enough to run the application at hand? Most technologies, including OSDBMS, have to prove themselves first with non-mission critical applications. These include test, development and even training applications. Once proven, they then move into the “land of mission-critical”. This is a significant leap and requires sufficient scores across all of the dimensions that I’ve mentioned. As an example, take a look at VMware. We used it in the early 2000s for test systems and demos.  It wasn’t long until we started seeing production applications running in VMware. The same thing is happening with OSDBMS.

Now, getting back to the question, the biggest gap that we see is the availability of good commercial tools for developing, administrating and even monitoring OSDBMS platforms. The database itself has proved out its mission-critical viability but the commercial tools in the market today are a bit lacking the industrial strength required to support these mission-critical applications.

To be ‘DevOps-friendly” means that the tool must play nicely with the other tools in the toolchain.

JAXenter: What problem does Toad Edge solve? 

Greg Davoll: The first release of Toad Edge is aimed at minimizing the learning curve for MySQL developers. It runs on both Windows and Mac operating systems and provides a very powerful SQL and JSON editor. In addition, Toad Edge for MySQL includes a schema compare and sync feature that will help developers easily identify and reconcile changes between systems. We’ve also incorporated a plugin for Jenkins that will allow for integration into DevOps workflows.

JAXenter: DevOps is one of the biggest buzzwords right now. Is this toolset “DevOps-friendly”?

Greg Davoll: It is and we’ll continue to invest in this area. To be ‘DevOps-friendly” means that the tool must be flexible enough to fit into a DevOps process and it must play nicely with the other tools in the toolchain, especially with the orchestration software being used. We plan to enhance Toad Edge to work with other leading DevOps tools.

SEE MORE: What makes an open source project succeed?

JAXenter: What lessons did you learn while developing Toad Edge?

Greg Davoll: We are still learning. We have a great business and customer base with our flagship Toad for Oracle product, but the tendency is to compare everything against that product. In this case, we had to stop comparing the two as they serve different audiences. Chasing parity is a losing game. Granted, all of this is more of a vendor’s challenge but it comes to mind as a lesson learned.

JAXenter: How important is open source in tech? Should developers contribute to open source? 

Greg Davoll: I would say that it’s critical to technology and will be woven into many aspects of our future. Most definitely, developers will continue to contribute and support open-source. It is more than a technology, it is a culture.

JAXenter: What is the biggest advantage of open source?

Greg Davoll: As I mentioned above, cost is a huge advantage and as long as that holds true, companies will continue to push for more products and solutions that leverage open-source technologies.

JAXenter: What is the biggest misconception about open source?

Greg Davoll: That it’s “free”.  It’s not free, but it’s less expensive than most proprietary offerings.

Gabriela Motroc
Gabriela Motroc was editor of and JAX Magazine. Before working at Software & Support Media Group, she studied International Communication Management at the Hague University of Applied Sciences.

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