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Daniel Westermann

PostgreSQL 10 is just around the corner, time to dare the switch?

Some days ago Robert Haas published a great blog post about the features you can expect for the upcoming PostgreSQL 10 (probably in September this year). Beside of what Robert is describing in his blog: Do you still build your database infrastructure on proprietary software? The time to move forward is now, let me explain why:

What you can always hear when it is about replacing proprietary products with open source solutions is: It does not cost anything. Well, this is not entirely true. The software itself is free and at least when if comes to PostgreSQL you are free to do whatever your want. But this does not mean that you do not need to spend money when using open source software. You will still need to either hire people who will operate what you need or you will need to spend some money for someone else operating what you need (in the cloud or not, that does not matter). The big difference is:

  • You won’t need to purchase licenses, fact
  • Internal or external: When you compare the effort to operate a proprietary database with the time required to operate an open source database: You’ll save money for sure, as you’ll usually reduce complexity. The database is there to do its work and not for generating huge amounts of administration efforts.
  • When you need specific features not there yet you’ll need to get in touch with the community and try to convince them to implement it or you implement it yourself or you pay someone for implementing it (all choices will cost some money).

So far for the money aspects. The real benefit you get when choosing PostgreSQL is that you do not lock you in. Of course, once you start using PostgreSQL your data is in PostgreSQL and you can not just take it as it is and put it into another database. And of course, once you start implementing business logic inside the database you might feel that this locks you in again, but this is true for every product you use. Once you start using it you use it in the way the product works and other products usually work in another way. The key point is that you are free to do whatever you want to do with it and PostgreSQL tried to be as much compliant with the SQL Standard as possible. This is a complete change in thinking when you are used to work with the products of the big companies. PostgreSQL gets developed by people around the globe who in turn work for various companies around the globe. But there is no company called PostgreSQL, nobody can “buy” PostgreSQL. It is a pure open source project comparable to the Linux kernel development. Nobody can “buy” the Linux kernel but everybody can build business around it like the various commercial Linux distributions are doing it. The very same is true about PostgreSQL. The PostgreSQL product itself will always be free, check the PostgreSQL license.

What you do not get from PostgreSQL are the tools you need around PostgreSQL, e.g. for monitoring, backup/restore management or tools to automate failover and failback. The tools are there of course, both open source products as well as commercial tools. The commercial ones usually require some kind of subscription (e.g. EnterpiseDB).

Another important point to know is that PostgreSQL is supported on many platforms, check the build farm on what currently is tested and works. You are free to chose whatever platform you want to use: Your company is mainly using Windows, go and install PostgreSQL on Windows. Your main platform is FreeBSD? Go, install and use PostgreSQL on it.

But we need professional support! I know, you are used to work with the support organizations of the big companies and believe that only payed support is good support. If you want to (or are forced to), have a look here or contact us. There are plenty of companies which offer commercial support. In fact the official mailing lists provide outstanding support as well. Post your question to the mailing list which is the right one for your question and the question will get answered pretty fast, trust me. If you can’t believe it: Test it (but better think of asking a question after you searched the archives, maybe the answer is already there).

There are no conferences for PostgreSQL! Really? Have a look here. The next one in Switzerland is here.

I will not go into a features discussion here. If you want to learn more about the features of PostgreSQL search this blog or check the official documentation. There are tons of slides on SlideShare as well and many, many videos. If you really want to know what currently is going on in the PostgreSQL development check the PostgreSQL commit fest which is currently in progress. This is the place where patches are maintained. All is transparent and for every single patch you can check on how the whole discussion started in the hackers mailing list, e.g. for declarative partitioning.

Think about it …


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Daniel Westermann
Daniel Westermann

Senior Consultant and Technology Leader Open Infrastructure