In a recent blog post, Help Keep the Internet Free, Monty Widenius makes the argument that the free existence LAMP stack is threatened by the eventual acquisition of MySQL by Oracle in the Sun/Oracle deal. His reasoning stems from the position that there is no credible alternative for MySQL and Oracle will be an awful steward for the MySQL franchise.
There is much to debate about the many points Monty makes in this blog entry but one in particular deserves a mention here.
“Q: Why can’t everyone just switch to PostgreSQL?
PostgreSQL is a great database; I am friends with many of the PostgreSQL core developers.
The problems with PostgreSQL are:
- It’s not compatible with MySQL (different feature sets and different support by various applications) and it’s far from trivial (in many cases practically impossible) to convert MySQL applications to PostgreSQL and vice versa.
- It doesn’t have a single strong company backing that MySQL has to deliver high class support globally.
- The PostgreSQL market is also, as far as I know, dominated by EnterpriseDB that provides a closed source version of PostgreSQL, which is not good enough for companies standardizing on open source.
So for the Oracle/Sun/MySQL case, PostgreSQL is not an answer that would help approve the deal, the market share is too small.”
Needless to say we at EnterpriseDB could not disagree more with this point of view.
The reality is there are many applications that have successfully migrated from MySQL to PostgreSQL. There are many reasons that organizations are already migrating from MySQL to PostgreSQL and they are all in direct contradiction to Monty’s assertions that PostgreSQL is not a credible alternative to MySQL. Let’s address his points one at a time:
It’s not compatible with MySQL (different feature sets and different support by various applications) and it’s far from trivial (in many cases practically impossible) to convert MySQL applications to PostgreSQL and vice versa.
It’s true that MySQL and PostgreSQL are not completely compatible out of the box; for instance, PostgreSQL is fully SQL compliant and MySQL is not. However, there are tools from EnterpriseDB and features in the latest release of PostgreSQL 8.4 that help make this task much easier. To claim that the task is impossible is far from true and very misleading.
It doesn’t have a single strong company backing that MySQL has to deliver high class support globally.
Here at EnterpriseDB we provide enterprise class support, services, and training for PostgreSQL, and deliver these products globally with our own staff and via partners. The Postgres community is a large, successful, and growing independent open source community that has never been controlled by a single vendor; this was the same for Linux when it launched and as it is structured today. EnterpriseDB brings the same value to the Postgres community that Red Hat brings to the Linux community. We think this is the best of both worlds for users: a large and independent community with a permissive license but a strong enterprise-focused vendor to turn to when needed.
A few notes about EnterpriseDB’s strength as a vendor:
- We are backed by three of the most well-known technology venture capitalists in the business.
- We are currently finishing our strongest year ever as a business.
- We expanded our business reach into new markets in Europe and Asia
- We have successfully signed more than 150 new customers this year alone, and
- We also acquired two new strategic investors in IBM and Red Hat.
- Arguably EnterpriseDB is as strong if not stronger as a commercial open source vendor than MySQL was, at the same stage of maturity.
The PostgreSQL market is also, as far as I know, dominated by EnterpriseDB that provides a closed source version of PostgreSQL, which is not good enough for companies standardizing on open source.
This argument is quiet simply misinformed, and is in direct contradiction to his previous point that the Postgres community doesn’t have a strong company backing it. EnterpriseDB’s commercial distributions of PostgreSQL are named Postgres Plus, there are two versions of Postgres Plus – Standard and Advanced. Our Postgres Plus Standard Server distribution is fully open source and uses a BSD license. Standard Server adds great documentation, installers, and certifies the distribution with other products and open source projects typically used in conjunction with PostgreSQL but it remains a fully open source product. Postgres Plus Advanced Server does have some closed source extensions to provide Oracle compatibility functionality for those customers that wish to leverage their investment in Oracle skills to develop and use PostgreSQL-based database in their applications. However, the core source code is built upon the PostgreSQL distribution.
In closing we believe Monty’s black and white argument that PostgreSQL isn’t a credible alternative for MySQL seems self-serving while discounting what is actually taking place in the open source database market. We concede that there are MySQL-based applications that may be too costly to move to PostgreSQL or may not require the fully functioning RDBMS features that PostgreSQL provides…in those cases moving to PostgreSQL may not be a practical alternative. However, PostgreSQL is a credible alternative for MySQL and one that should be considered by those looking for alternatives.PostgreSQL: The Credible Alternative to MySQL