EnterpriseDB - competing with giants

EnterpriseDB - competing with giants

Summary: EnterpriseDB has been working with the PostgreSQL open source community to make the technology better, faster, more reliable and better able to address customer requirements. Now is the time for the company to take steps to reach out to the suppliers that influence the selection of database product rather than just reaching out directly to customers' technical staff members

TOPICS: Data Management

From time to time, I have the opportunity to speak with someone from EnterpriseDB, a company devoted to bringing the open source PostgreSQL database to organizations of all sizes. The propose of the call was introducing EnterpriseDB's new Multi-Master Replication (MMR) capability. The conversation then went on to focus on how EnterpriseDB was trying to compete with giants, such as Oracle, to win over decision-makers and database architects.

Multi-Master Replication

EnterpriseDB has long focused on improving the PostgreSQL open source database. The company as worked to improve overall performance, scalability, reliability, security and availability of PostgreSQL. It has also worked to package the open source technology and provide commercial-grade  installation, documentation and support. Multi-Master Replication, now in beta test, is designed to make it possible for geographically disbursed databases to be kept in synchronization with one another.

MMR is trigger based, that is certain events can trigger replication of changed portions of the database to another system in a safe and reliable way. What's different about this version of replication is that systems on both end of the connection can be masters, each running different applications simultaneously. This is a significant improvement over Master/Slave approaches to replication that require a system be devoted to backing up the database system in case there is a need to recover the database after some form of failure.

Oracle, IBM, Microsoft and others have offered replication technology such as this for quite some time. EnterpriseDB's move can be seen either as defensive or as systematically removing barriers to sales to medium and large size customers.

Competing with the giants

EnterpriseDB finds itself competing the giant companies, such as Oracle, IBM, Microsoft and a few others. Over time, the PostgreSQL open source community and EnterpriseDB have extended their technology so that it can address upwards of 90% of the requirements of a database engine to support traditional and new applications. Getting attention and convincing customers to try out the database has been challenging.

EnterpriseDB, and to a large extent, the open source PostgreSQL community has largely focused on the technical requirements of database architects and administrators. When the company speaks about its products and solutions, it tends to speak about the technical aspects of the technology and why it is good enough to be the foundation of today's applications.

Dealing with today's decision process

Unfortunately, companies seldom select a database based solely upon its technical merits.

Application first

If a customer sees its information technology as a necessary evil, it is likely to select applications first, the development tools and application frameworks required by those applications and only then consider which database product is best when supporting that stack of software.

In this case, the database is the third choice and the choice of database is directed by earlier choices.  To win, the database supplier would have to win over the suppliers of both the application and the application development tools/frameworks to even be considered.

I'm not aware of a single application supplier that leads with EnterpriseDB's product or with the PostgreSQL open source project that is the foundation of EnterpriseDB's products and services.

Development tools first

If a customer sees its information technology either as a competitive weapon or as the foundation of its products and services, it is likely that no packaged application software will fit their requirements. So, they'll start with the necessary development tools and application frameworks first, the packaged applications needed to round out their plans for a new product or service offerings.

In this case, the database software is the third choice, once again. As in the other case, the database supplier would have to be recommended by the other suppliers to come to the customer's party.

I'm not aware of a single development tool or application framework supplier that leads with EntepriseDB or PostgreSQL.

Unasked for, shoot from the hip advise to EnterpriseDB

It is clear that EnterpriseDB needs to be more aggressive in winning over other  suppliers to be invited to the customer's application party. Here are some random thoughts on what EnterpriseDB needs to do:

  • Demonstrate to suppliers of applications, development tools and application frameworks that they will sell more of their product because the overall solution pricing will be lower than when the same application is sold into the installed base of Oracle, IBM or Microsoft  database users. EnterpriseDB then needs to go on to persuade them to lead with its products in appropriate customer engagements.
  • Acknowledge that business decision-makers must be won over not just the technical decision-makers. This means that EnterpriseDB must make the business case that its customers saved money, were more profitable and went on to win more business because of their use of EnterpriseDB. EnterpriseDB must then go on to help these decision-makers make the case to company management that an EnterpriseDB decision is not risky.
  • Rather than always relying on a very technical presentation of EnterpriseDB's merit, it would be best to pick a few important features and show how customers do better because they chose EnterpriseDB rather than products from Oracle, IBM or Microsoft.

This set of comments is only the beginning.

Regardless of the fact that PostgreSQL in general and EnterpriseDB's Postgres Plus are really strong tools and really should be considered, customers must be made aware of the fact that it exists and is available before they'll be interested in learning more. They must be persuaded to be interested in learning more before they'll come to want what the technology can do for them. These customers must want this technology before they can be persuaded to take action and purchase it.

Topic: Data Management


Daniel Kusnetzky, a reformed software engineer and product manager, founded Kusnetzky Group LLC in 2006. He's literally written the book on virtualization and often comments on cloud computing, mobility and systems software. In his spare time, he's also the managing partner of Lux Sonus LLC, an investment firm.

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  • "not aware of a single application provider that leads" with PostgreSQL

    Esri, maker of the most used GIS software in the world, supports Oracle, MS SQL Server, or PostGIS quite evenly, and permits the customer to define their DB approach. PostGIS, btw, is PostgreSQL with some GIS-specific add-ons configured in.
    • PostGIS is an optional extension for PostgreSQL

      daboochmeister wrote:
      "PostGIS, btw, is PostgreSQL with some GIS-specific add-ons configured in.

      From the PostGIS web site:

      "PostGIS adds support for geographic objects to the PostgreSQL object-relational database. In effect, PostGIS "spatially enables" the PostgreSQL server, allowing it to be used as a backend spatial database for geographic information systems (GIS), much like ESRI's SDE or Oracle's Spatial extension.

      P.S. Have used PostGIS/PostgreSQL on both Linux (Debian, Ubuntu and OpenSUSE) and OpenSolaris (which requires that PostGIS be built from source code).
      Rabid Howler Monkey
  • Number 2 in the bulleted list

    WIll be the hardest part to begin reasonable uptake of new database technology. Most IT shops that i have worked in have either Oracle, SQL server or a mix of both. These types of shops won't go for a third database until client server enterprise software supports PostGres equally with the other two database vendors; even then adding a 3rd database is an expensive and complex wash on money savings for small to medium sized organizations
  • xTuple ERP

    Dan, xTuple is a commercial open source ERP, CRM, and accounting application that counts PostgreSQL as a core technology. We use PostgreSQL as much more than a data store, using the pl/pgsql procedural language for complex business logic transactions, and building over 100 simple APIs (application program interfaces) to that business logic with database views.

    We also leverage PostgreSQL's powerful object-relational features, including table inheritance across multiple schemas for customized application packages.

    And in our new mobile web client, we have embedded an ORM (object relational map) API directly into the database itself with the plv8 implementation of JavaScript.

    I'm not aware of a commercial database that would support all of these features, let alone at zero license cost. On a related note, the BSD license under which PostgreSQL is released makes it a bit harder to build a list of applications that use the database. But that doesn't mean the list doesn't exist - see http://www.postgresql.org/download/product-categories/ for one.
  • Heroku and Django

    Both Heroku and Django push PostgreSQL.
    Nik Everett