Why open-source database management? Lower costs, flexibility, innovation

PostgreSQL has become a highly stable cloud-native database management system.
26 July 2021


Open-source software is often known for being cheaper, more flexible, and longer-lasting compared to other proprietary software. A lot of developers have been, and continue to work on open-source tools as the open-source community allows anyone to work, modify or distribute the code as they see fit.

Today, open-source has become a movement whereby it uses values and decentralized production models to find new ways to solve problems in communications and in various sectors. While it is mostly designed for and by the open community, companies like RedHat and EnterpriseDB have been advocating open-source solutions for the longest time now. The State Enterprise Open Source Report by RedHat shows that 90% of IT leaders are using enterprise open source with 79% also seeing an increase of enterprise open source usage for newer technologies over the next two years.

For enterprise-class open-source databases, PostgreSQL has become a highly stable cloud-native database management system. With over 20 years of community development, PostgreSQL has contributed to high levels of resilience, integrity, and accuracy. Many web, mobile, geospatial, and analytics applications use PostgreSQL as their primary data store or data warehouse.

As of June 2021, the most popular database management system in the world was Oracle, with MySQL and Microsoft SQL server rounding out the top three. Although the database management industry contains some of the largest companies in the tech industry such as Microsoft, Oracle and IBM, a number of free and open-source DBMSs such as PostgreSQL and Apache Cassandra remain highly competitive. PostgreSQL developers believe that the trend will continue with bigger market adoption in the years to come, especially in North America and Europe, with Asia also seeing higher adoption.

While commercial databases like the ones from Oracle and Microsoft are robust and reliable, some organizations find them unsuitable for modern environments due to their size and complexity. As cloud spend and container adoption are expected to increase in the next few years, enterprises require agile databases that thrive in these modern IT environments.

PostgreSQL scales easily and is flexible enough to serve the evolving database needs of many organizations, by the myriad data types and data processing needs that exist today. Cloud-native databases like Cloud Native Postgres remove the need for external tooling, otherwise required to work within Kubernetes, and enables a direct connection between the Postgres database and modern environments. It is built from the ground up with cloud-native principles in mind, it combines the best of both traditional and agile databases.

Open source databases are gaining traction for database management (Photo by DAMIEN MEYER / AFP)

Reducing cost, being flexible and innovative with database management

Marc Linster is EnterpriseDB’s Chief Technology Officer. He and his team of PostgreSQL experts work with key customers and strategic partners on providing strategic technical direction, visionary thought leadership, and leveraging key technology trends to drive business growth. According to Linster, businesses need to deal with exponential data growth by bringing down the cost to store and manage the data. Compared to commercial databases, the cost of having supported open source with the right tools is like a tenth of what businesses are traditionally paying.

Apart from lowering costs, businesses also need to improve the flexibility of their data. Linster explained to TechHQ that traditional license agreements are extremely restrictive. For example, certain capabilities are only available by the vendor itself compared to PostgreSQL that runs everywhere.

“If you look at it today, PostgreSQL has become the lingua franca of databases in the cloud because they run everywhere. PostgreSQL provides an operating system neutral interface layer. And therefore it can run on Linux, Windows, on basically everything. So, PostgreSQL gives both license and technical flexibility to organizations. We have customers telling their teams to use PostgreSQL API because they can run them anywhere. We can develop in containers and deploy in containers. We can deploy in Google, Alibaba, it doesn’t matter where because PostgreSQL is everywhere,” explained Linster.

Marc Linster, EnterpriseDB’s Chief Technology Officer

At the same time, innovation is also important especially with data coming in various forms today. From IoT data to geospatial data, PostgreSQL object-relational framework allows new data types to be defined with their operators. Other databases can do this too but only PostgreSQL can easily integrate it into the sequence query language.

“All these streams of information can be kept and manage in the same environment. I am not saying it’s one big database but in the same method, the same process of archiving and recovery, the same process of deployment, etc. If I need a new GIS system, my current team and just fire it up. If I need a new system to capture IoT data, it can be done as well. This flexibility, low cost, and innovation are what organizations need in managing their data,” said Marc.

Managing Kubernetes with PostgreSQL

As mentioned earlier, cloud-native PostgreSQL manages PostgreSQL workloads on any supported Kubernetes cluster running on private, public, or hybrid cloud environments. As PostgreSQL runs well with containers, Kubernetes has brought in the capabilities to manage and deploy containers flexibly. Kubernetes has become smart enough to keep database clusters up and running. Applications that reside in the same Kubernetes cluster can access the PostgreSQL database using a service that is solely managed by the operator, without having to worry about changes of the primary role following a failover or a switchover.

“Kubernetes has given us the ability to have a deployment and management system that works on every cloud. As PostgreSQL supports every cloud, the solution is perfect for companies as it is cheap, flexible, and innovative and is also able to run everywhere that takes away the complex lifecycle methods that slowed it down. For example, in the past, it would take a week or more to get a new database. Today, if it takes more than an hour, IT teams would be thinking what went wrong as they may end up losing to their competitors,” Linster added.

At the end of the day, the cost, flexibility and innovation of PostgreSQL is causing businesses to make the most of the value they can get from an open-source database. As EnterpriseDB’s Linster puts it, more companies are looking beyond the cost benefits alone. They want to give freedom to their developers to try and develop new applications without being limited to the tools available to them. The excitement of making use of tools to innovate and be flexible without worrying about licensing issues, is what drives open source developers and makes PostgreSQL the better option.