Why Developers Love Fully Managed PostgreSQL Databases in the Cloud (Part 1)

February 14, 2022

A Conversation with EDB Vice President of Performance Engineering, Vibhor Kumar and EDB’s Postgres DevOps Engineer, Doug Ortiz.

For companies who have made the decision to move to the cloud, there are an abundance database options to choose from. When weighing what providers or technologies they think will best suit them, they might hear a wide range of answers from different teams and individuals. In EDB's experience, though, there's one group that's consistently enthusiastic about the same solution: developers.

That solution? Fully managed PostgreSQL!

So why are developers so keen on fully managed PostgreSQL in the cloud? To get the best answers, we sat down with EDB’s Postgres DevOps Engineer Doug Ortiz and Vibhor Kumar, EDB’s Global Vice President of Performance Engineering. Over the course of their time with EDB, they’ve seen the benefits of fully managed PostgreSQL manifested across departments, teams, enterprises, and industries as a whole. 

Here’s what they’ve seen excite developers the most.

For quick context, could you explain what a fully managed database is?

Doug: In the broadest sense, a “fully managed,” or just “managed,” database is a database where administration is the responsibility of the provider. Companies that use the database don’t have to concern themselves with actually maintaining the database infrastructure all that much, and so they’re more free to focus on their business, innovation, etc.

Are all fully managed databases created equal? 

Vibhor: Fully managed databases in general do make life easier for DevOps teams, because this approach allows them to focus more on their specific work, rather than worrying about database maintenance. There are still some tasks they’ll have to handle, but these are very minor when compared to a self managed database.

Doug: There are a range of providers who offer fully managed databases, but the reason that many developers, ultimately, prefer fully managed PostgreSQL databases in the cloud comes down to the mix of stability, ease of use, and flexibility that it provides for developers and DevOps. Most large cloud service providers (CSPs) have a vested interest in ensuring that enterprises which purchase or subscribe to their solutions stay with them and only them. This means that if you move to an Oracle or AWS cloud architecture, it will be harder for you to integrate some third party tools or applications which you might have a lot of experience with and affection for. It might also be hard to set-up a multi-cloud infrastructure, because it’s not in the provider’s best interest to incentivize customers to work with them and their competitors simultaneously. Of course, you’re still getting the benefits of the provider managing the database for you, but, depending on the CSP, you might feel increasingly boxed in.

If I’m a developer, why might I not be happy with this?

Vibhor: As a developer, you want as much freedom and flexibility when it comes to building your business’ products and applications. This means that you’re going to want to have a fair amount of control over both the tools you can work with, and the environment in which you’re working. You might want to spin up new database clusters dedicated to specific DevOps team objectives or integrate legacy solutions from your previous stack into your current cloud infrastructure.

With some CSPs, this just isn’t possible, or—when it is—it’s difficult, frustrating, and impractical. If your team is looking to innovate, stay agile, or just feel in command of your own development process, some of these providers will stymie you, and limit what it is you can accomplish or how it is you accomplish that. That cloud move that was supposed to open up new possibilities for a company’s developers can just end up slowing your progress, and disrupting continuity as the DevOps team is forced to adapt to a new set of restrictions that doesn’t suit their process.

How does choosing fully managed PostgreSQL as your cloud option solve this?

Doug: Maybe the best way to understand this is to divide “fully managed PostgreSQL” into two parts: the “fully managed” part, and the “PostgreSQL” part.

As we previously discussed, fully managed databases take a great deal of administrative and operational labor off the shoulders of the organization using the solution. If you were to use standard, non-managed PostgreSQL, you would find yourself provisioning your entire infrastructure nearly from scratch. Both the building and maintenance of your clusters would consist of a lot of repetitive tasks, the automation of which would only lessen the responsibility so much. There are organizations who appreciate the full-fledged freedom of a totally self-managed architecture, but its benefits are tailored to a very specific approach to development.

Now, the “PostgreSQL” part of it. In comparison to the aforementioned CSPs, because PostgreSQL is an open source project, the limitations on what solutions and strategies developers can implement are nearly non-existent. Using APIs, developers can integrate all of the tools they prefer into a PostgreSQL infrastructure with ease, while also taking advantage of the foundation and architecture of CSPs like Microsoft Azure or Oracle. Similarly, it’s far easier to deploy other open source solutions like Ansible (an IT automation engine that handles provisioning, configuration management, application deployment, orchestration, and more) or Terraform (an Infrastructure-as-a-Code tool ideal for managing external resources). EDB’s own customers have used our own versions of these programs to specialize and revolutionize their PostgreSQL environments.

So, in many ways, fully-managed PostgreSQL offers the best of both worlds: the structure and administrative support of a fully managed CSP offering and the flexibility that open source provides. Plus, as an open source project, PostgreSQL is maintained and evolved by its community of users, many of whom are developers themselves. That means that if a developer in another organization notices a gap in functionality, their efforts to rectify it will benefit your DevOps team.

Beyond flexibility, what else do developers get excited for?

Vibhor: We’ve heard dozens of different answers to this question from EDB customers and from other businesses working with fully managed PostgreSQL. But a few of the oft repeated ones are:

  • Scalability and performance: PostgreSQL can handle large scale data and queries, perfect for DevOps innovation. Not only does it perform when you most need it to, but it can grow along with your business, so it never slows you down.
  • Automatic failover and replication: In the event of a failure, your data and applications will be automatically replicated to another node. We’ve heard too many stories of organizations scrambling because they’ve lost access to critical files due to an outage with their CSP. 
  • High availability: As an extension of that, your data and applications are always available, even during server failures. Additionally, your clusters can be configured to span multiple availability zones, thus ensuring you’re always in touch with your most vital data and applications.
  • Ease of Use and Monitoring: No matter your developers’ preferred language or development environment, they can use it. They’ll also be able to keep a close eye on everything they and their team is working on, identifying issues swiftly and without unnecessary hassle.
  • Powerful integrations: One of our core beliefs at EDB is that a database cluster should not just be an island in the cloud. It should touch and connect with all your other systems. PostgreSQL has no stake in limiting who you integrate it with. Your clusters will never be islands.

Does EDB’s BigAnimal, a fully managed PostgreSQL in the cloud, offer all of this? 

Vibhor: Yes. BigAnimal is designed to empower every member of an organization, and it provides a multitude of benefits that strengthen developers specifically. Because of its compatibility with Oracle, a business that wants to move to the cloud can do so quickly, and with minimal disruption to the applications developers are working on and depending on. Plus, teams familiar with Oracle’s SQL queries will be able to run them easily in the cloud via EDB’s Postgres Advanced Server (EPAS)

Because of BigAnimal’s fully managed capabilities, deployment and provisioning are faster than ever. Rather than having to wait for admins to set up servers or additional software, developers can hit the ground running, never missing a beat.

Doug: In essence, BigAnimal was built every step of the way with a focus on what we’ve learned from our customers and industry—ramping up what developers and their organizations love, and remedying the challenges they’ve faced.

Fully managed PostgreSQL databases in the cloud: a developer’s DBaaS dream

DevOps teams are critical to the success of an organization, and—when database infrastructures don’t work—they’re often the first to feel the consequences. With its combination of administrative support, and potential for flexibility and scalability, fully managed cloud PostgreSQL is an ideal fit for the work these teams have to accomplish. 

In the DevOps trenches, developers need database solutions that are going to keep up with them, support them, and empower them. That’s exactly what fully managed PostgreSQL in the cloud does. They’ve told us themselves.

Check out Part 2 of this series to learn more!

To discover how fully managed PostgreSQL in the cloud revolutionizes the way businesses work, check out EDB’s Ultimate Guide for Moving Your PostgreSQL Database to the Cloud. 

If you’d like to experience what EDB’s BigAnimal can offer your developers, request a free trial

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