The news in open source databases this week was almost like one of those maligned SAT questions: "Red Hat is to...
Linux as Pervasive Software Inc. is to [blank]?"
Pervasive Software, a 20-year veteran of the database industry and best known for the Btrieve-based embeddable database, is expanding into the open source world by throwing its technology and support into PostgreSQL The new product and integrated support services will be sold to customers as Pervasive Postgres.
Users who have passed on an open source database for their core technologies may consider PostgreSQL, especially now that an established vendor like Pervasive is integrating a program of support and tools to go alongside it.
Curt Finch, the founder and CEO of Austin, Texas-based Journyx Inc., said his company has been running PostgreSQL since 1996, and he plans to sign up for Pervasive's offering when it is officially released in February. The big draw, he said, was that third-party support was now being integrated with PostgreSQL.
Finch said Journyx provides customers with a Web-based timesheet software product. Journyx's customer-accessible data center is comprised of 15 IBM eSeries Linux machines running a version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, he said. Each of the machines "talks" with two different 4 CPU boxes that run PostgreSQL.
"[PostgreSQL] has been rock-solid," Finch said, adding that he is anticipating a strong showing for the open source database with the added clout of a company like Pervasive. The support that Pervasive has integrated into the database could offer companies with reservations about open source a more secure option.
"I think that with larger companies like United Parcel or General Electric, a lot of the appeal of [open source] software is lost on them because they are used to a traditional way of doing things," he said.
However, even in light of this fact, Finch said open source applications have still managed to seep into those organizations, albeit in a very untraditional manner.
"These open source systems have crept into their infrastructure without salespeople knocking on the door saying, 'use Linux or open source'," Finch explained. "They see their data center one day and notice this open source stuff is all there."
This methodical infiltration has allowed users to take a step back whenever a project is set to coalesce with Oracle, DB2 or "whatever a vendor has on the short hairs," Finch said.
"[This choice] allows the customer to say, '[forget] Oracle -- why pay when I can use the free license and all I pay for is support?'" Finch said. "In order to have done that in the past, a CIO would have had to have some [fortitude] as he or she would have had to rely solely on internal developers."
Finch believes that before this marriage of open source and third-party support, open source was a very risky move even if it was considered cost effective.
"Just because you have the source code, that's not some magic wand, but now [with support] you have solved the problem -- it's a no-brainer," he said.
Noel Yuhanna, a senior industry analyst at Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research Inc., said there is no denying that open source is beginning to make a dent in low enterprise end deployments. He added that future developments would see larger deployments -- like the ones expected by those at Pervasive -- develop in the future.
"It's a very active community and it's got the attention of a lot of enterprises," Yuhanna said.
With Pervasive's third-party support for PostgreSQL and Yuhanna's prediction, open source databases may be approaching sooner than you think.