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Mirror, Mirror On The Wall, Which Is The Best Open Source DB Of Them All?

With the release of v 9.0 PostgreSQL stakes its claim

Ever since Oracle got its anti-open source hands on MySQL via the Sun acquisition, many in the open source community have been hoping for a new champion to fill the perceived void that Oracle "selling" MySQL presents.  With the release of version 9.0, the PostgreSQL community and EnterpriseDB, the company trying to be the "Red Hat" for PostgreSQL, say that PostgreSQL is the worlds most advanced open source database and the one everyone should be using.

I had a chance to sit down and talk with Robin Schumacher, director of product strategy for EnterpriseDB and Selena Decklmann, a major contributor and leader of the PostgreSQL community.  The conversation is about 20 minutes long and you can listen to it below.

With the JavaOne conference going on right now in San Francisco, the issue of Oracle's stewardship of open source project is on a lot of people's minds. As Microsoft subnet Blogger, Robert Mullins writes, this is going to be a seminal event for the Java community to see what direction Oracle will be taking Java.  Some say the signs already point to disappointment for the pro-open source crowd by the fact that as Mullins writes, "they put JavaOne at the kids table" instead of in the Moscone Center.  A not so subtle message for sure.

But beyond Java, the JavaOne conference is also seen as a bellwether in the open source DB community as well. The MySQL community is looking to read the tea leaves about what Oracle might have planned for the open source DB as well.

Now of course Oracle will tell you that MySQL is not a competitor to the Oracle product. That it is aimed down market of their flagship DB.  But as Schumacher, who worked at MySQL prior to joining EnterpriseDB says, the Oracle sales reps are very good at selling what is going to give them the highest commission.  It is totally counter-intuitive to think that they will sell MySQL when they can instead sell Oracle into an account. MySQL will be the sale "of last resort". Meaning that only if they cannot possibly sell Oracle into an account will they fall back to MySQL.

The bigger battle going on though maybe for the hearts and minds of the development community. If the perception is that Oracle is not pushing MySQL, the PostgreSQL folks thing that they should instead line up behind PosgreSQL.  As Selena mentions in the podcast, because of the license that PostgreSQL is under, it is not a candidate for any one commercial vendor to take over.  It offers a true open source environment for developers and users alike.

The new 9.0 version has many features that put it on parity and even surpass some of the MySQL functionality. The new features include:

  • Hot standby
  • Streaming replication
  • In-place upgrades
  • 64-bit Windows builds
  • Easy mass permissions management
  • Anonymous blocks and named parameter calls for stored procedures
  • New windowing functions and ordered aggregates

These were the biggest requests by the community and PostgreSQL thinks they have given the community what it wants with this release.

EnterpriseDB wants to be for the PostgreSQL community what Red Hat is for Linux. Their CEO Ed Boyajian, is a former GM of Red Hat. They are offering enterprise class service and support for PostgreSQL. They think that this is the last call for MySQL and the move to PostgreSQL will soon turn into a stampede.

One thing is for sure, MySQL showed that there was a real market for an open source database alternative.  If Oracle fumbles the MySQL hand off and the community is set adrift in search of another option, the PostgreSQL folks will be waiting with open arms.

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