Old-style Lock-in vs. Next-gen Database Federation with Postgres

July 17, 2014

Recent big data news showed finally there was some recognition by Oracle that enterprises might have more than one database vendor in their environments. And these organizations might need to use specialized, NoSQL niche solutions to address special problems. Voila, one version of Oracle’s pricey database can now interact with two—just two—open source solutions.

It was a day of Oracle playing catch-up with Postgres.

The Postgres community has long recognized the need for databases to integrate. EnterpriseDB’s introduction of connectors to Oracle databases came first, followed by the introduction in PostgreSQL v9.1 of support for the SQL standard SQL/MED (SQL Management of External Data). This made way for the development of Foreign Data Wrappers, which enables end users to integrate structured and unstructured data from external databases with Postgres. Postgres has Foreign Data Wrappers for CouchDB, Informix, MongoDB, MySQL, Neo4j, Oracle, Redis and others. They can map to the JDBC, LDAP and ODBC interfaces and work with such non-traditional data sources as files, HTTP, Amazon’s S3 and even Twitter.

Where There’s a Need, There’s a Wrapper

As new data sources emerged, developers in the community built capabilities for using Postgres to work with data from outside sources. Foreign Data Wrappers enable Postgres to read and write queries with foreign data sources so that end users can leverage the strength of an ACID-compliant relational database management system with unstructured data capabilities should the end user have a specialized niche NoSQL solution in their environment.

(The capacity for Postgres, using FDWs, to integrate structured and unstructured data is in addition to the native capabilities in Postgres that also support both schema and schema-less data. Read our white paper, Postgres Advances to Meet NoSQL Challenges, on JSON for document databases and HStore for key-value stores. Find it under the heading, Postgres and NoSQL) 

Enterprises commonly run databases from a mix of vendors in their data centers. Our customers who are major US or global brands typically have every major DBMS in their environments, whether from acquisitions or specialized app demands. Foreign Data Wrappers give Postgres the ability to federate data and act as a centralized hub within the data infrastructure, absorbing data from multiple sources and reproducing it in tables for simplified queries.

The ability to combine structured and unstructured data—from sales orders and invoices to web activity, product management reports, and supply chain information—without sacrificing ACID compliance is an important value proposition for Postgres. Where some companies have just discovered interoperability, Postgres is seasoned, and leading the way. In a much more friendly way at that.


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