EnterpriseDB Commercializes Open-Source PostgreSQL
- By John K. Waters
There's a new player in the open-source database game. Startup EnterpriseDB
emerged from stealth mode last month to launch the first public beta of its
flagship product, a PostgreSQL-based database management system: EnterpriseDB
With EDB2005, the company set out to improve on the venerable open-source DBMS
with enterprise-targeted features, including compatibility with many applications
written for Oracle and SQL Server databases. This capability is implemented
through compatible SQL syntax, data types, triggers and native stored procedures.
PostgreSQL offers an alternative to other open-source systems, such as MySQL
and Firebird, and competes with proprietary systems venders such as Oracle,
Sybase, IBM and Microsoft.
The open-source DBMS has been around in one form or another for about 20 years.
It emerged from the POSTGRES project, a database research project directed by
Michael Stonebraker at the University of California at Berkeley in the mid-1980s.
Stonebraker had also lead the groundbreaking INGRES (Interactive Graphics and
Retrieval System) project, which, along with System R from IBM, revolutionized
database systems by allowing data to be accessed through a high-level language.
(POSTGRES stands for post-INGRES.)
In the early 1990s, the POSTGRES project ended at Berkeley, but the school
had released the system under the BSD license, which allowed open-source developers
to continue developing it. In 1994, two Berkeley graduate students, Andrew Yu
and Jolly Chen, added a SQL language interpreter to Postgres, which eventually
lead to a renaming of the project: PostgreSQL.
"It's great technology," says Andy Astor, CEO and co-founder of EnterpriseDB,
"but it's never had a phone number."
In fact, EnterpriseDB isn't the first company to offer a commercial version
of PostgreSQL. Earlier this year, GreenPlum began using PostgreSQL to build
a database optimized for large-scale analytics. Also earlier this year, Pervasive
Software began offering support services for the database.
IBM released its Cloudscape Java embedded DB to open source last year. Computer
Associates did the same with its Ingres database. And Sun Microsystems has said
that it will offer an open-source database called SunDB.
But all of that is good news to Astor. "Now that mainstream companies
understand that open source is not about software with no cost, but actually
about getting better-quality software, they are very interested in exploring
their options," he says.
Astor believes that the software industry is now in the midst of a fundamental
shift around open source. "We’re seeing the beginning of a series
of new business models," he says, "of which EDB2005 is one. Today
you’ve got an open-source base that is absolutely fantastic in terms of
the quality of the code, the cost of the acquisition of that code and the breadth
of the skill sets, because so many have worked on it. Commercial entities are
building on top of that base and delivering products with a cost structure and
within a time frame that simply wasn’t possible before."
The EnterpriseDB 2005 beta is available for download from www.enterprisedb.com.
The beta is free, and includes support. The company will begin charging for
the product when it goes GA sometime later this summer.
John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached