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It’s Time For Customers To Challenge Oracle: EnterpriseDB

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An exclusive interview with Robin Shumacher, Vice President, product management, EnterpriseDB.

Swapnil: How would your define EnterpriseDB? Can you tell us more about the company and its products?
Robin Shumacher: EnterpriseDB is the enterprise PostgreSQL Company, meaning we are the leading worldwide provider of PostgreSQL products and services. We supply: (1) Advanced database software; (2) Management software and tooling; (3) Professional support, training, and services. EnterpriseDB is also known as the industry leader in Oracle compatibility software (made available via our Postgres Plus Advanced Server).

Swapnil: Why you chose to use PostgresSQL instead of MySQL? How do you compare the two databases?
Robin Shumacher: MySQL has typically been used as a Web database. By contrast, PostgreSQL is more of an enterprise-class database with a feature set that rivals Oracle, Microsoft, and IBM. Core differences between the PostgreSQL server and MySQL include:
PostgreSQL is a true, open source, independently run development effort whereas MySQL is fully owned and managed by Oracle.
PostgreSQL has a bundled enterprise install experience with all key pieces of software (community or EnterpriseDB) being included and updated automatically.
PostgreSQL is known for rock solid transactional performance and high data integrity, with no worries of data loss caused by crashes (MySQL suffers from this issue).
PostgreSQL has advanced security features such as external authentication and roles, which are not found in MySQL.
PostgreSQL has a strong reputation in the GIS/Geospatial marketplace, whereas MySQL’s GIS features are very rudimentary.
PostgreSQL is more developer friendly than MySQL, with developers being able to write stored procedures/functions in 9 different languages. Plus there are code debuggers, etc., that are not found in MySQL.
PostgreSQL has a more sophisticated optimizer than MySQL and is able to easily scale to 8 or so terabytes of data on a single box; MySQL must rely on 3rd party providers to scale into the TB range.
PostgreSQL uses a more liberal license than MySQL’s GPL.

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In addition to the above, EnterpriseDB adds Oracle compatibility, heterogeneous data integration, advanced security features (e.g. A SQL firewall), and infinite cache, none of which MySQL has.

Swapnil: How do you define your relationship with PostgreSQL community? How do you engage with the development work?
Robin Shumacher: EnterpriseDB works very closely with the PostgreSQL community and employs a number of the key committers.

Swapnil: How do you define the open source database landscape post MySQL acquisition? What has changed and what do you expect to change?
Robin Shumacher: All industry analyst groups see nothing but momentum for open source databases in general. As an example, Forrester Research sees 75% of companies using an open source database in production by 2014. With the acquisition of MySQL by Oracle, PostgreSQL is the only independent open source database that remains with a strong customer base, community, and commercial backing.

Swapnil: Oracle has distanced itself from most of the open source projects nurtured by Sun, in the process Oracle has also distanced itself from the larger open source community. What future do you see for MySQL at Oracle?
Robin Shumacher: MySQL will continue to be enhanced, however most market experts do not believe it will be improved in a way that will compete against the flagship Oracle database. Community input into the product also continues to be a weakness, with the end result being numerous forks (e.g. MariaDB, Drizzle, etc.) being produced.

Swapnil: Most EnterpriseDB executives come from Red Hat, how does it affect the relationship between the two companies?
Robin Shumacher: Red Hat is an investor in EnterpriseDB. The two companies continue to work closely together, with recent evidence being the support of EnterpriseDB in Red Hat’s new OpenShift Cloud offering.

Swapnil: Besides Red Hat, who are your core partners?
Robin Shumacher: Our major partners include HP, VMWare, Rackspace, Amazon, IBM, Netezza, NTT (Nippon Telephone & Telegraph) and KT (Korea Telecom). We also have close alliances with other open source software vendors including Alfresco, Compiere, Eucalyptus, Jaspersoft and Pentaho.

Swapnil: RHEL used to have its own database; do you think Red Hat should have its own database to offer complete solution to its customers? Are there any plans of working closely with Red Hat on database front?
Robin Shumacher: Many Red Hat and open source customers are now searching for help to cut their spend on proprietary databases and in particular Oracle. Given the strong ties between EnterpriseDB and Red Hat, we are collaborating on bringing Postgres Plus solutions to customers who need to make a database change and understand the value of open source to break the lock-in of Oracle.

Swapnil: With Unbreakable Linux, Oracle attacked the spirit of open source by copying the code and not committing to contribute anything back to the RHEL code. How do you see the entire scenario from the POV of an open source player?
Robin Shumacher: Such behavior is not lost on the open source community. The benefits of contributing code back are large and being a true member of the open source community are countless. Oracle is a fierce competitor. The bigger issue with Oracle entering the Linux market (RHEL clone or not) is that they want total account control and wallet share of their customers and are determined to get it. A perfect example of this is their lack of support for RHEL 6.0 with their database, a not so subtle way to get customers onto Oracle Linux. It’s time for customers to turn the table and challenge them in their “sweet spot” by adopting more open source databases like Postgres Plus.

Swapnil: How closely do you work with Red Hat to ensure market presence on the RHEL installations?
Robin Shumacher: RHEL is a dominant production platform for many of our Postgres Plus customers. In addition to ensuring the highest levels of platform support for RHEL, EnterpriseDB and Red Hat stay closely connected to deliver complete solutions to customers looking to cut database spend alongside operating system and middleware.

Swapnil: What kind of install-base/market do you have? Can you share with us your revenues and market share?
Robin Shumacher: EnterpriseDB finished 2010 with over 100 percent growth in revenue while bringing in 385 new customers across all regions and industries. The first half of 2011 is also off to a stellar start as we are nearing our 1000th customer.

Swapnil: Which are the core market segments for EnterpriseDB?
Robin Shumacher: PostgreSQL is found in most every market vertical, with key segments being Enterprise 2.0 companies, as well as medical, financial, e-commerce, and data warehouse.

Swapnil: What roadmap do you have for this financial year to increase market presence?
Robin Shumacher: 2011 will include both the release of enhanced existing product lines which includes Postgres Plus Advanced Server 9.0 released in June 2011, as well as the introduction of new product lines such as Postgres Enterprise Manager and Postgres Plus Cloud Server, which will bring enterprise-class management capabilities to PostgreSQL as well as the entry of the first PostgreSQL Cloud database to market respectively.

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