In the last ten years attitudes towards open source in enterprise IT environments have changed dramatically, as users have shifted from skepticism about its ability to cope with mission-critical workloads to deploying it widely across their infrastructures. It now dominates the operating system layer in IT infrastructures and is rapidly becoming integral to most strategic IT initiatives. The database is no different. According to Gartner: "By 2022, more than 70% of new in-house applications will be developed on an Open Source Database Management System (OSDBMS) or OSDBMS-based Database Platform-as-a-Service (dbPaaS), and 50% of existing proprietary Relational Database Management Systems (RDBMS) instances will have been converted or be in process of converting." The research report also points out to the Gartner Research Circle survey, that said, "89% of organizations reported using free or open source DBMS software; a third reported using it in more than 50% of their organization.”
This lines up with our belief that open source, and in our case Postgres, is being seen as the only alternative to the traditional commercial databases for most application requirements. We have seen the functionality argument used against open source fade away as the features of OSDBMS systems have gone on to credibly compete with traditional proprietary databases. In our case, working with the community to innovate rapidly to deliver new functionality makes Postgres ever more attractive for our customers, who are seeking greater agility and responsiveness from their database solutions.
However, we believe Gartner is not suggesting enterprise users should switch their entire database infrastructures to open source without undertaking a careful evaluation of some critical issues. This is something we agree with and offer a range of tools, such as the EDB Postgres Migration Portal, to help customers consider the implications of a move to EDB Postgres.
While the technology has matured significantly to achieve functional equivalency in many areas we always say that adopting open source databases is no different to any other database implementation in a mission-critical environment. There is a temptation, given the low barrier to adoption, that open source databases are adopted by anyone within an organization. In principle, this is possible but as companies seek to modernize their IT infrastructures it is important to avoid creating pools of Shadow IT, that add to complexity, rather than simplify IT infrastructures.
Consequently, the move to OSDBMS must be carefully planned, a thorough evaluation conducted and the right support put in place to ensure organizations maintain high availability, reliability, and scalability. In particular, the report makes some good points for enterprise users considering a move to the cloud. Migration to the cloud is not just about the cost of implementation, but understanding the configuration requirements and how to support the application to ensure minimal disruption. Indeed, Gartner makes it very clear that users should “always purchase commercial support for production implementations.” We would agree with this approach, not because we believe there are flaws in open source software, but because we know our customers operate mission-critical applications that cannot afford downtime.
Ultimately, we are convinced that Postgres - and other open source software - is going to become ever more important in enterprise IT environments. Postgres, given its relational heritage, can minimize some of the cultural and organizational challenges of adopting a new technology, because of its comparable functionality and approach. More importantly, though, Postgres offers greater flexibility and agility to innovate and respond to business demands by creating a database platform that can operate on-premise and in the cloud simultaneously without the expense and constraints of licensing traditional proprietary databases.
I would encourage Gartner subscribers to read Gartner’s report as we believe it offers some great insights on the OSDBMS market, as well as considerations to guide your approach to adopting the technology.
Gartner, State of the Open-Source DBMS Market, 2019, 17 October 2019, Merv Adrian, Donald Feinberg.