Out-of-the-box solutions can limit database effectiveness

Published: Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A proprietary database solution that an organization purchases a license to, installs and begins using may sound nice, easy and powerful. But it can also stifle innovation and effectiveness as an out-of-the-box proprietary database limits how much a business can tailor the solution to its specific needs. Essentially, it asks a company to search until it finds the DB that matches its requirements as closely as possible, and then accept whatever shortcomings it has to deal with along the way.

There may be some wiggle room with a proprietary DB, but not enough to meet enterprise requirements in light of data's growing importance. Data is so critical now that organizations can no longer afford to be complacent with inefficient databases that may get the job done, but fail to offer any advanced capabilities. Instead, companies are realizing that data is the key to gaining a competitive edge, and an out-of-the-box solution will limit how they store, manage and analyze information to such an extent that they may not be able to leverage information in the ways they want to.

Open source could be the answer. Businesses that build their DB systems on an open source framework are able to access solutions that they can customize for almost any need. Most experts agree that the core code provided in many open source systems can rival that of proprietary software, and the popularity of open source database solutions is evidence of that.

If they so wish, organizations can use an open source database similarly to a proprietary system, simply purchasing licenses and installing the system. It will still be more cost-effective in most cases. But gaining the most from an open source DB depends on customization and effective management.

When working with an open source database, there are few, if any, restrictions about how companies adjust the source code to meet their operational requirements. If a particular kernel is superfluous, then you can get rid of it and avoid inefficiency. If a bit of code enacts an operation that limits the database's effectiveness for a specific use, you can adapt the code in that instance. The options for customization are almost limitless, and businesses can use the freedom offered by open source database systems to optimize the solution, building it around their business instead of asking employees to build their operational processes around the limitations of the database.

An open source database also offers a few simpler advantages that can be leveraged without extensive customization. One of those is more frequent update and patching cycles. Every piece of software has security vulnerabilities, glitches and other problems that, however small, can become extremely problematic if they affect operations or are noticed by the wrong person. With proprietary software, companies often have to wait a long time to see these problems fixed. Open source software is typically updated far more often, as there is usually an entire community of developers working to solve problems.

Recently, open source databases have also been setting themselves apart with their ability to work effectively in the cloud. While many proprietary developers are still working to develop cloud-based database solutions, the open source community has not only latched on to the cloud, but the core software offers enough customization that businesses can more easily adapt their solutions for cloud environments. The cloud is built on flexibility, and open source database infrastructure is a natural match with the emerging technology, allowing businesses to leverage the gains of both cloud and open source within their DB, gaining a major competitive advantage through superior data management.