Database margin compression, helped by open source

For a long time Oracle could claim that there were no open source alternatives for enterprise database applications, but that is no longer the case.

I had a very nice chat late yesterday with  Josh Berkus, who works as the Sun lead with PostgreSQL.

After watching Sun suffer from "margin compression" for years, while transforming itself into an open source company, he's now watching database rivals Oracle and Sybase suffer the same fate.

Not that he's taking all the credit.

"This would happen without open source, but open source is just making it happen a lot faster," he said. "IBM DB2 and Microsoft's SQL Server have had just as big an effect, maybe bigger, than anything we've done."

For a long time Oracle could claim that there were no open source alternatives for enterprise database applications, but that is no longer the case, Berkus said. "While there are some things Oracle does better, there are a few that we do better. GIS, for instance – we have a better GIS package. And it varies across databases. When a user needs a feature people will choose based on it.

One area where PostgreSQL has been doing really well is in biological research. "Biological resarchers have created their own data types to handle genes and molecule pairs and gene sequences."

The competition will continue, and that's good for everyone. "I won't say we've caught Oracle yet but our development is now much faster than Oracle's," Berkus concluded. "It may be faster than any other popular database system period."

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