Open source databases are not just about the licensing dollar
The majority of organizations now use technology in ways that are quite different from ten years ago. The concept of using pre-built solutions or platforms hosted remotely is nothing new: mainframes and thin terminals dominated the enterprise from the 1970s until the arrival of the trusty desktop PC.
The cloud has also shifted our notions of how and why we pay for technology solutions. Commercial and proprietary platforms designed to be installed on-premises were, just a few years ago, accompanied by a hefty up-front bill for licenses. Today, paying per seat, per gigabyte throughput, or even per processor cycle, is becoming standard.
Software deployments at scale have changed as well. Open-source solutions transitioned from the internet’s underlying management structures (routers, switches, backbone DNS, and so forth) to the data center and became cloud providers’ foundations. The server platforms, apps and databases in constant use by most of the planet’s population are running (mainly) open source software — not that most end-users know that’s the case.
This isn’t the forum to discuss the pros and cons of open source in terms of security, scalability, and configurability. However, there is clearly a massive advantage in the size of the collective intelligence that creates and continuously evolves Apache projects, Nginx, MySQL, Linux and, in fact, all the software that now effectively runs the world.
The open source community is not, overall, antipathetic towards commercialism, and several monetizing models have taken hold which turn a free (at the point of install) product into a self-supporting, developing entity. Red Hat, SUSE and Canonical provide add-on services for their desktop and server users, usually with user and admin support as a starting point, then with additional offerings available for implementation as a business grows and develops.
Databases are no different in this regard. There are plenty of companies out there that will help organizations maintain, secure, and manage their “free” Postgres, MariaDB, Redis (and so on) instances. Furthermore, companies are now providing additional management services and functionality on the foundation of open source software (see below), while carefully maintaining their policy to upstream improvements and generally support the community.
Naturally, there are different business models which those involved in open source databases deploy. Some companies charge for services like expansion of platforms that are either not conducive to scaling or come with licensing costs that are both expensive and byzantine.
There are many organizations looking around for suppliers that can help them transition from systems not designed to scale in the cloud (even small DBs like Microsoft Access continues to feature in the top ten most popular databases in production use today). As businesses grow, are subsumed or embark on takeovers, legacy provisions need a constant re-evaluation.
Most companies are embracing open source solutions; most cloud services now run on Linux and community-maintained stacks, usually on commoditized hardware, too. But, aside from avoiding the commercial implications of vendor lock-in, there are several other reasons why enterprises are transitioning to open source databases, and increasingly commonly adopting FOSS (free and open source software) frameworks with added support, management and functional capabilities from a commercial partner. These might include:
- Licensing costs and complications in proprietary models, with complex licensing agreements not conducive to agile business practices.
- Newer technologies which provide resilience and a more business-oriented framework, like microservices and containers.
- The DevOps “mentality” of continuous development and Agile working methods for new applications and services, and modernizing older code.
- A desire to better use public and private clouds, and/or hybrid topologies to better support the business’s strategy.
- To develop more robust resilience and failover, for instance by better master and replica switching, snapshots and backups.
The company that currently serves and supports a decent chunk of the Fortune 500 is EnterpriseDB, the leading global provider of enterprise-ready Postgres. Built atop the platform-agnostic, open source PostgreSQL database, EnterpriseDB delivers an open source-based data management platform, optimized for greater scalability, security, and reliability. EnterpriseDB appears in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant of database service and management platforms, and includes compatibility with Oracle plus highly advanced security and performance features.
Many enterprise-level database management professionals will be more than aware of the resource overhead needed to transition to a new or updated platform, despite the incentives (or pressures) to do so. However, the EnterpriseDB Migration Toolkit is a powerful set of tools that can, via a CLI and GUI, aid a seamless transition from Sybase, Oracle, SQL Server, MySQL and the like, onto a scalable Postgres-based topology.
Being built on PostreSQL, the EDB platform can connect via adapters to NoSQL variants, like Hadoop and MongoDB, and the Replication Server keeps data consistent between Oracle, SQL Server and other PostgreSQL instances.
On the issue of migration, there’s a free, online Migration Portal which will check any Oracle schema for EDB Postgres support, show differences, and repair syntactic differences, create new definitions, and provide a great deal more virtual ‘DBA aspirin’.
To learn more about Postgres and the way EnterpriseDB can provide full management, rock-solid backup and failover, migration, support, and more, click here.
*Some of the companies featured are commercial partners of Tech Wire Asia