PostgreSQL flies into the cloud

EnterpriseDB pushes out new cloud-based offering

PostgreSQL has been getting a lot more enterprise attention lately, and now it's going to be an even bigger player in the cloud.

PostgreSQL commercial vendor EnterpriseDB announced today the release of its new Postgres Plus Cloud Database (PPCD), a cloud-based instance of both their community and commercial database offerings that is currently ready for deployment on Amazon's Elastic Cloud Computing (EC2) and HP's Cloud Compute (which, as you will recall, runs on the OpenStack APIs).

EnterpriseDB's marketing arm is a bit, um, overly enthusiastic about the release--they're coining this as a database-as-a-service (DBaaS) product. But, despite the attempt to foist yet-another *asS term on us all, this release is still interesting.

The PPCD product itself is pretty much what you might expect for a cloud offering: EnterpriseDB customers can launch multiple nodes of either PostgreSQL 9.1 (which is licensed under the open source PostgreSQL License) or the commercially licensed Postgres Plus Advanced Server 9.0, EnterpriseDB's open core offering. The instances can also scale horizontally, with the ability to add more storage space just a few clicks away in the management interface. This minutes-away deployment process is typical for cloud-based solutions--indeed, it's expected--so it's not exactly a showstopper.

No, what's interesting to me is the fact that this EnterpriseDB offering coming at a time when the enterprise as a whole seems to be shifting towards PostgreSQL and other offerings, and--more notably--perhaps away from MySQL.

It's been a little hard to put my finger on it… certainly the big hype-o-rama towards big data has been a distracting factor. As databases get huge and/or have continuous-input modes of operation, there has been a legitimate drive towards so-called NoSQL data infrastructures.

Don't mistake the excitement about non-relational databases as a complete abandonment of relational database. A lot of IT customers are not willing to leave the world of ACID-compliant databases. But MySQL may not be the preferred solution anymore for quite a few of these customers.

For quite a while, I have noticed a buzz in the blog-Twitter-yak-o-sphere about companies and developers walking away from MySQL and seeking other database platforms, such as MariaDB, Drizzle, and yes, PostgreSQL. Nothing concrete, and certainly not enough to write about (the "blog-Twitter-yak-o-sphere" is a fickle mistress, who will turn on you and rip your face off any second). Still, the rumblings were there.

Then Matthew Aslett, an analyst for The 451 Group who has access to something more substantive--actual data--ventured forth the same question just this week: "Is MySQL usage really declining?"

In his article, which was an invitation for MySQL users to participate in 451 Research's 2012 MySQL/NoSQL/NewSQL survey, Aslett pointed to 2009 survey results that seemed to indicate that MySQL use would be on the decline.

"This represented an interesting snapshot of sentiment towards MySQL, but the result also had to be taken with a pinch of salt given the significant level of concern regarding MySQL future at the time the survey was conducted," Aslett wrote, because the 2009 survey was taken "at the height of the concern about Oracle's imminent acquisition of Sun Microsystems and MySQL."

I am guessing here, but I'm willing to bet that the new survey, when complete, may deliver similar indicators. Again, I have little but anecdotal evidence to back this up… e-mails and conversations (online and off) about how there's a lot of distrust of Oracle's intentions since their acquisition of Sun Microsystems and, with it, MySQL.

When I was taking to Karen Tegan Padir, Executive Vice President of Products and Engineering at EnterpriseDB, about the release of PPCD this week, I mentioned the trend I'd been seeing. Padir, a former Sun Microsystems executive who worked on the MySQL product, offered an interesting insight: MySQL's current decline might not be any direct animosity towards Oracle.

Storage engine vendors, for instance, are shying away from MySQL as an object database engine because it would require them to enter into an contract relationship with MySQL's current owner Oracle--a company with which they directly compete.

More general customers, Padir explained, have another reason to look around for a non-MySQL solution. Companies that chose to use Oracle as a tier-one database and MySQL as a tier-two database would have suddenly found themselves with an all-Oracle stack when Oracle picked up MySQL.

"That went against a lot of IT customers' desires to keep their datacenter footprint deliberately heterogenous," Padir said.

Granted, Padir has a vested interest in figuring out ways to out-compete MySQL, but given her experience on MySQL and her overall experience with this sector, I would not be quick to dismiss her observations as corporate smack-talk. These contexts offer a couple of compelling reasons why MySQL seems to be facing these walk-aways--certainly better than the philosophy-based anger directed at Oracle because of their past performance with open source projects. That argument never sat well with me, anyway--as much as I have written about Oracle's foibles in the open source space, the MySQL team's work and output have been exemplary to date.

Time will tell how the database customers will ultimately judge MySQL, of course. But it's clear that vendors like EnterpriseDB are seeing an opening here and are going to push into every niche they can.

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Read more of Brian Proffitt's Open for Discussion blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Drop Brian a line or follow Brian on Twitter at @TheTechScribe. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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