Can PostgreSQL pickup where MySQL left off?

EnterpriseDB, a provider of enterprise-class products and services based on PostgreSQL, today announced Postgres Plus Cloud Server, which the company has billed as "a full-featured, Oracle-compatible, enterprise-class PostgreSQL database-as-a-service for public and private clouds with support for Amazon EC2, Eucalyptus, Rackspace, and GoGrid."

We've seen other database-as-a-service offerings come on the scene from the likes of's, Amazon RDS, as well as from startup Xeround. But they're not based on PostgreSQL, which has had years of hardening and development by a committed community. The other databases are not "Oracle compatible," … Read more

Why relational databases make sense for big data

In 2010, the talk about a "big data" trend has reached a fever pitch. "Big data" centers around the notion that organizations are now (or soon will be) dealing with managing and extracting information from databases that are growing into the multi-petabyte range.

This dramatic amount of data has caused developers to seek new approaches that tend to avoid SQL queries and instead process data in a distributed manner. These so-called "NoSQL," such as Cassandra and MongoDB databases, are built to scale easily and handle massive amounts of data in a highly fluid manner.

And while I am a staunch supporter of the NoSQL approach, there is often a point where all of this data needs to be aggregated and parsed for different reasons, in a more traditional SQL data model.

It occurred to me recently that I've heard very little from the relational database (RDBMS) side of the house when it comes to dealing with big data. To that end, I recently caught up via e-mail with EnterpriseDB CEO Ed Boyajian, whose company provides services, support, and training around the open-source relational database PostgreSQL.

Boyajian stressed four points:

1. Relational databases can process ad-hoc queries

Production applications sometimes require only primary key lookups, but reporting queries often need to filter or aggregate based on other columns. Document databases and distributed key value stores sometimes don't support this at all, or they may support it only if an index on the relevant column has been defined in advance.

2. SQL reduces development time and improves interoperability

SQL is, and will likely remain, one of the most popular and successful computer languages of all time. SQL-aware development tools, reporting tools, monitoring tools, and connectors are available for just about every combination of operating system, platform, and database under the sun, and nearly every programmer or IT professional has at least a passing familiarity with SQL syntax.

Even for the types of relatively simple queries that are likely to be practical on huge data stores, writing an SQL query is typically simpler and faster than writing an algorithm to compute the desired answer, as is often necessary for data stores that do not include a query language. … Read more

IBM puts Oracle to the sword with EnterpriseDB

IBM is going on the offensive against the pending merger of Sun Microsystems and Oracle.

IBM announced Wednesday that it nabbed 100 of Sun's and Hewlett-Packard's customers last quarter alone for its high-end servers and mainframes, with half the deals worth over $1 million each, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.

The bigger news, however, may be IBM's partnership with EnterpriseDB, the commercial backer of the open-source PostgreSQL database, to embed EnterpriseDB's Postgres Plus Advanced Server technology into IBM's DB2 9.7 database product. EnterpriseDB's technology basically allows applications written for the Oracle … Read more

Hard work, talent, and a whiff of luck: Malcolm Gladwell's 'Outliers'

I'm not a fan of Malcolm Gladwell's earlier books, Blink and Tipping Point. His "insights" tend to be obvious and provide little predictive power (i.e., knowing his theory does nothing to help you plot your way to success). Indeed, the most they provide is rear-view mirror insight into why something might have happened.

Gladwell's new book, Outliers, is no different, but I find it more interesting, perhaps in part because it helps to explain a complex subject in pithy prose. As The Wall Street Journal details in an engaging book review, Outliers identifies the necessary traits of successful people, only two of which do people have any control over. The last? Well, it's a matter of happenstance:

...[S]uccess seems to stem as much from context as from personal attributes. Intrinsic ability appears to be a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for exceptional achievement. It also helps to be born at the right time--the 1830s for titans of industry, the 1950s for computer whizzes--and in the right home environment, with the right cultural heritage. But the elements of success are not all matters of happenstance and talent: Hard work (practicing a skill for at least 10,000 hours) is essential, too, as even Mozart discovered....… Read more

EnterpriseDB finds its Postgres feet against Oracle

In June 2008, EnterpriseDB named Ed Boyajian, former Red Hat executive, as its CEO. At the time I had lost interest in EnterpriseDB and wondered why someone with Boyajian's pedigree would go there.

Well, I had the chance to talk with Boyajian today and I'm starting to see his interest in EnterpriseDB. In particular, I believe Boyajian brings EnterpriseDB precisely what it needed: sales-level execution and strategy to complement the product-level execution and strategy it already had done well.

What, specifically, does this mean? It means moving to an inside-sales model. It means growing the open-source database business … Read more

EnterpriseDB spoiling for the wrong fight

Pop quiz:

You are a new startup, looking to break into a big market. To do so you should: a) Focus on differentiating against and beating the biggest vendor in that market b) Focus on differentiating against and beating the most successful tiny vendor in that market c) Focus on creating a compelling value differentiation from all other vendors in the market and disrupt the economics of that market

Answer? It could be a mixture of "a" and "c," but I'd be hard-pressed to agree with any strategy built on "b." Unfortunately, EnterpriseDB continues to fixate on MySQL, … Read more

Report: Open-source databases on the rise

Yes, the open-source database market is still relatively small (roughly $200 million in 2007, according to Gartner). But when The Wall Street Journal starts paying attention (subscription required), it's clear that the opportunity is huge. The Journal doesn't get paid to be sentimental.

Regardless, as Arjen Lentz opines,

...(D)isruptive technology tends to not take over the incumbent's market, but find or develop a completely new market, and indeed take over in that space. The question then is, does the incumbent's market remain intact, or does it change/evolve naturally and perhaps shrink or even completely disappear over time. Generally, the market-dominant incumbent continues to survive in a niche (where they are obviously dominant, but no longer in the market overall). In short, the market changes and with it its rules and demands.

Leading this market transformation is Sun Microsystems. Open-source databases (PostgreSQL and, especially, MySQL) may get a significant boost from Sun's involvement:… Read more

EnterpriseDB raises cash and its open-source profile

Good things come in threes, as EnterpriseDB confirmed today. The company today announced that it has raised a $10 million Series C round, including backing from IBM. With $37.5 million in funding to date, EnterpriseDB isn't hurting for cash.

This, however, has not been EnterpriseDB's primary problem. It's not cash that it has lacked, but open-source cachet. Its story of "Oracle performance and interoperability at a fraction of the cost" is a winner, but it was muted by its lack of a compelling open-source story.

That just changed.… Read more

PostgreSQL vs. MySQL: Who has the best community?

Maybe there's still some fight in the PostgreSQL competition, after all. [Update: Or maybe it has more to do with internal changes at MySQL - see below.] According to data compiled by MarkMail, PostgreSQL messaging traffic dwarfs that of MySQL's, suggesting that the Postgres community is more active than MySQL's:

Comparing PostgreSQL and MySQL is kind of interesting. With all the talk about the LAMP (Linux/Apache/MySQL/PHP-Perl-Python) architecture you'd think MySQL had a lock on the open source database market, but based on simple message traffic analytics, PostgreSQL has a much higher level of community involvement. Looking at January 2000 onward, the MySQL lists have amassed 340,000 messages with about 3,000 new messages each month. In the same time period, the PostgreSQL lists have hit 583,000 messages with 7,000 new each month.

I'm surprised. A (highly imperfect) Google Trends analysis shows MySQL (blue) dwarfing PostgreSQL (red) in terms of search interest (but both are on the decline):… Read more

PostgreSQL 8.3 designed for better speed

Programmers behind the PostgreSQL project released the new version 8.3 of the open-source database software Monday, saying they've boosted improved performance 5 percent to 30 percent and added several useful features.

One of the performance improvements comes from a technology called heap-optimized tables, which reduces the amount of effort a computer must expend updating the frequently changed elements of the database. Other improvements reduce the penalty of taking periodic snapshots of the database and an speed some transactions though an "asynchronous commit" ability, the organization said.

Other features include "synchronized scan," which makes data … Read more