C-level briefing: Dave Page, Chief Architect at EnterpriseDB, talks about the Postgres community, migrating from Oracle and playing catch-up.
Page, who has been working on PostgreSQL in the community for 18 years, is a man with plenty of experience with Oracle which, due to its market size, is EnterpriseDB’s biggest target for migrations.
While he sees that people are moving away from all sorts of systems, he identifies Oracle as the main target for customer frustration.
"What we see is more and more customers becoming frustrated with Oracle as a company, with their business practices, the way they deal with licensing enforcement, the pricing and the quality of support you get from them."
Sticking with Oracle, Page said: "My impression of Oracle is that they are a very arrogant company and I think they’ve let their size and their market share go to their heads to be honest."
Referring to the blog post that Mary Ann Davidson, CSO, Oracle wrote, he said: "I think that article was an example of probably how they tend to think, they just didn’t quite shut their mouth in time and count to 10 before hitting the publish button."
Part of why people are choosing PostgreSQL and EnterpriseDB is because users get to see the way the company works.
"Not only can people see how we develop the code but they can see how we deal with bug fixes and things like that, but they can also see how we work. Everything we do is out in the open so you’re not hiding behind the PR department."
Postgres has been playing catch up with the feature gap of big commercial databases; Page identified how MySQL added new features but was not necessarily improving the data integrity side of things until fairly late in the game.
When Oracle bought them up, Page believes that people decided they didn’t want to use Oracle software, he said: "They’ve already destroyed the open office community and other small ones, so then people became scare at what’s happening at MySQL and looked at Postgres as an alternative."
Page believes that his community is catching up with the other options very quickly, partly due to new features being added by Oracle or SQL Server, making them a bit like Microsoft Word.
"You can go back to Word 95 and you can type up your notes, you didn’t need all the features they’ve built since 95 to do that.
"I think to some extent, Oracle, SQL Server and DB2 are in that kind of boat, that there’s limited additional functionality that they can add that people actually need.
"That over the past 10-15 years has given us lots of time to catch-up with that core stuff that people do need that we didn’t have 20 years back."
EnterpriseDB is clearly invested in adding additional features to make it more appealing as it continues to play catch-up. The company is working on a number of projects such as creating foreign data wrappers.
This works by plugging code into Postgres that allow users to make data on an Oracle server appear as a table in Postgres.
"That foreign data wrapper can actually talk to anything that you design it to talk to as long as it’s providing some data. So we have FDWs talk to Mongo or Couch, EnterpriseDB have been working on a Hadoop connector so you can pull your data straight from Hadoop."
The challenges it now faces with new projects is that it is having to transition from building new features in a year to building them in multi-year projects.
This is due to the nature of much more complex projects it is working on for example bidirectional replication, parallelisation and data sharing across a cluster of servers.
"Those are the sorts of projects where the community is, I wouldn’t say struggling but learning more and having to think more about how we operate.
"We’ve been really stuck in the mindset of doing these 1 year projects, which up till a year or so back worked fine. Nowadays we are on to building these things that are much more complex that you can’t do them in a year."
Dave Page, Chief Architect, EnterpriseDB.