Database trends

Open-source RDBMSs vs. commercial RDBMSs

Coman Hamilton
Old and new image via Shutterstock

Gartner’s latest database report is advising enterprises to begin switching to open-source RDBMS alternatives. PostgreSQL pro Sandor Klein tells us why the open-source RDBMS is finally edging out the proprietary counterpart.

“Open source RDBMS have matured and today can be considered as a standard infrastructure choice for most new enterprise applications,” says Gartner in its report on open-source relational database management systems (longest tech acronym ever: OSRDBMSs). While open-source databases like EnterpriseDB’s Postgre solutions and MariaDB’s MySQL RDBMS are charting growth of 46% and 55% respectively, it’s estimated that half of commercial RDBMS users will convert to open-source by 2018.

We spoke to PostgreSQL advocate and EnterpriseDB VP Sandor Klein about the advantages of the open-source alternatives to RDBMSs.

JAXenter: What is it about the traditional RDBMS vendors that’s causing a decline?

Sandor Klein, EnterpriseDB: The high cost and vendor restrictions that come with traditional relational database vendors like Oracle are driving away end users. Open source and open-source-based relational databases have matured. They’re supporting mission-critical workloads at global enterprises worldwide and their use is expanding rapidly.

PostgreSQL, for example, is the fourth most popular relational database in the world and its popularity has risen steadily as recent releases have enhanced usability. We have taken Postgres even further with our Postgres Plus Advanced Server, integrating performance, security and manageability enhancements to support business-critical workloads.  And organisations can enjoy the benefits of a high-performing, enterprise-class database at 91% less cost than Oracle, according to a price-comparison scenario Gartner put together in the report.

Do you imagine the traditional RDBMS vendors will disappear?

Traditional relational database vendors are not going to disappear. These companies have a massive installed customer base and for these companies, replacing the databases supporting their entire data infrastructures is just not an option. It would be too difficult for some.

Others have workloads that require a specific capability or product alignment. And still others are tied up in very complex legal agreements that can make replacing databases very difficult.  Hence, Gartner is calling for organizations to standardize on open source relational databases for new applications and migrate workloads they’re able to move over to an open-source database.

As open-source relational databases continue to gain in popularity, traditional vendors will see their sales grow more slowly and they will have to diversify their products even more to find new market opportunities.

What are benefits to the open-source alternative?

Organisations that use open-source relational databases benefit from a very low cost and much greater flexibility in their infrastructures. They are free from vendor lock-in and can choose from a wider range of hardware and supporting database products.

What is it about OSRDBMS that has taken them this long to mature?

magic quadrant

EnterpriseDB has entered the ‘Leaders’ section of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant © (Gartner)

Postgres, unlike other open-source relational databases, has matured faster and has been ready for some time to support enterprise mission-critical workloads. Because of the size and commitment of the community and the fact that the technology has been around since the 1980s, coming from the same research that produced Oracle, Postgres is ahead of the others by leaps and bounds.

A testament to that maturity is the success of EnterpriseDB, which counts some of the world’s largest companies as customers who are using EDB’s Postgres Plus Advanced Server to support business-critical workloads.

Are there any concerns for teams considering a change to an OSRDBMS? How complex is the migration process?

I can speak for Postgres and I can say the process can be very easy, especially with many Oracle workloads.  EDB has developed database compatibility for Oracle for its Postgres Plus Advanced Server so many Oracle workloads migrate with little or no alterations.

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Still other workloads require some coding but in many cases, we have the solution already developed.  It’s best to start, as the Gartner report points out, with reporting applications or non mission critical workloads that will easily run on Postgres while developing the experience with a new solution before tackling workloads that require a great deal of coding or customisation.

Coman Hamilton
Coman was Editor of at S&S Media Group. He has a master's degree in cultural studies and has written and edited content for numerous news, tech and culture websites and magazines, as well as several ad agencies.

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