With the impending release of version 9.0 of the open-source Postgres database, due in mid-August, the developers behind the project are hoping that the new features will attract more interest from enterprises.
"The features going into 9.0 [were created to] ease the burden for people coming from proprietary databases to Postgres," said Bruce Momjian, a core developer to the open-source project, as well as a senior database architect for EnterpriseDB, which offers a commercially supported version of the database.
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"We're now focusing on ease of use, ease of administration, and providing the type of facilities that we think large organizations need," he said. A lot of what the developers are doing now is "putting the mainstream polish on the database, and not having it just be something for open-source people," he said.
When it comes to general-use, open-source relational databases, perhaps it is MySQL that most readily comes to mind, though the lesser-known PostgresSQL, more formally known as Postgres, has shown itself to be a credible choice as well.
EnterpriseDB has been marketing its version of the database as a lower-cost alternative to proprietary databases, such as Oracle's, as well as an alternative to MySQL, with the reasoning that Oracle now controls MySQL, and customers may want to diversify their database technologies.
"Postgres [usage] is continuing to grow really quickly. We're getting a lot of people who used to use Oracle, MySQL, and [IBM] DB2, and that has accelerated in the past six months or so," Momjian said.
For instance, data warehouse vendor Netezza used EnterpriseDB's Postgres Plus Advanced Server to power its new offering, Netezza Migrator, which is software that provides an Oracle-based interface for making SQL queries into Netezza's TwinFin data warehouse appliance.
Postgres 9.0 will update the last major version, 8.4, released last July. In June, developers released the second beta version of 9.0. The full release is expected around mid-August, Momjian said.
Version 9.0 will come with a number of new features that should appeal to enterprises, Momjian said in an interview with IDG News Service. Chief among them is internal replication.
With replication, the database is copied in a second location, in many cases on a different server located at some other location. Previous versions of Postgres offered what Momjian called "external replication," meaning a program outside the database itself copied the database transaction logs to the new location at pre-specified intervals. The transaction log is the record of all the changes made to a database.
This approach proved to be too slow and bulky. The new version of the software allows "streaming replication," meaning as soon as something is written to the original database, the database software also commits the data to the second database as well.
This approach means changes can be added to the second database more often, providing for a more up-to-date backup database. It also allows the second database to be queried against, which also wasn't possible in the previous setup, Momjian said.