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EnterpriseDB's Postgres Plus 9.0 Server Adds HP-UX Support

EnterpriseDB, the commercial distributor and supporter of the open source PostgreSQL object-relational database system, has launched the latest version of its Postgres Plus Advanced Server. The new version (9.0) comes with new support for the HP-UX operating environment and better compatibility with Oracle, among other enhancements.

I talked with Robin Schumacher, EnterpriseDB's director of product strategy, about the release, and he acknowledged that it includes a lot of new stuff from the community. He was especially enamored of three community-generated enhancements: Streaming Replication, Hot Standby and Upgrade In Place.

Postgres has been criticized for not having its own built-in replication capability. Now users can replicate from a single master to one or more slaves using the tried-and-true write-ahead log technology that has been in Postgres forever. Hot Standby acts as a failover mechanism, standing at the ready should the primary DB server fail, but as the name implies, it's not just a cold machine. People can actually use it to query the data and offload reporting and business intelligence functions, for example, to that Hot Standby server. Schumacher likens the capability to Oracle's DataGuard product's Active Option, but its freely bundled in with the server. Upgrade In Place frees users from the "dump-load" methodology. So it's a lot faster; in EnterpriseDB's own tests, Schumacher says, gigabyte upgrades that used to take hours now take minutes. 

PostreSQL 9.1 is currently in its third beta. If you're interested, there's a link to a beta testing how-to and links to release notes and documentation on the PostgreSQL community Web site

The list of enhancements in this release also includes a couple of standouts:

  • New support for Oracle's embedded SQL programming language, Pro*C. "People can basically take their Pro*C applications and aim them at our database instead and they'll function just fine," Schumacher said.
  • New support for replicating Microsoft SQL Server data to Postgres Plus through a new graphical replication console, dubbed xDB, which allows users to point and click their way through creating replication policies. The company already supported Postgres to Postgres and Oracle to Postgres replications.
  • Support for the HP-UX operating environment on Itanium-based HP Integrity servers. File this one under "Seizing an Opportunity." Oracle announced earlier this year plans to stop developing new versions of its DB and software for the Itanium chips. "Lots of people like their HP hardware, they're happy with HP support, and don't want to switch it out," Schumacher said. "And so we're adding this support. If you're looking for an alternative to Oracle, we've got a nice story here."

I also like a new piece of built-in intelligence called the Index Advisor. A developer or a DBA can pass the Index Advisor a SQL workload that contains SQL statements, and it will come back and recommend indexes that they should build on the underlying tables to improve performance. It makes those recommendations, forecasts performance improvements based on those indexes, and even provides the code to create them. There's also a new Code Profiler designed to allow developers to find an analyze performance bottlenecks.

It's been interesting to watch the evolution of this company, which emerged from stealth mode six years ago o launch its first product, EnterpriseDB 2005, at a LinuxWorld conference in San Francisco.

PostgreSQL, of course, has been around in one form or another for about 20 years. It emerged from the POSTGRES project, a database research effort directed by Prof. 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" essentially stands for "post-INGRES.")

With its fledgling flagship product, EnterpriseDB 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.

"We're standing on the shoulders of hundreds of staff years of work," Andy Astor, founder and then CEO of EnterpriseDB told me at the time. "And it's important for us to be cognizant of that heritage -- and we are. Our job is to enhance that technology to compete in a commercial environment." (Astor is currently serving as vice president of the Asurion Mobile Applications group, which develops and supports that company's digital protection products.)

Today the company bills itself as a provider of "enterprise-class PostgreSQL," and I'd say that's a fair label.

Posted by John K. Waters on July 15, 2011