Why are Open Source DBMS More Popular Than Commercial Mainstays?

June 08, 2022

Open source database management solutions (DBMS) like Postgres have experienced a meteoric rise in recent years. In fact, the popularity of Postgres in particular has not only rivaled, but now, eclipsed that of major commercial players.

Today, 80% of IT leaders expect to increase their use of enterprise open source software for emerging technologies, including their DBMS. This trend coincides with increased migration from databases like Oracle and a greater appreciation for the power of open source databases in industries that were once skeptical of these projects.

Why is this? There are a myriad of reasons, each of which speaks to the demands of modernization and digital transformation sweeping organizations big and small. The more important question is “why should this matter to you?”


Break free of inflexible database restrictions

One of the key drivers for organizations abandoning legacy commercial databases is restriction, a lack of freedom and the sense that an inflexible database cannot accommodate a flexible vision.

This frustration manifests itself in many different ways, most obviously with licensing. Commercial database licenses are often designed, first and foremost, to lock a company in with the solution provider they’ve selected. This arrangement, then, limits what solutions and tools they can integrate with their database, how they can build their architecture and, ultimately, what they can achieve. As a business sees increasing price hikes in their licensing costs—alongside the same immovable restrictions—they might feel as though their ability to innovate and transform has been hindered.

But they don’t see that with databases like Postgres. Because open source databases are not commercial entities, they have no incentive to limit what tools an enterprise can integrate into their technology stack. Similarly, Postgres and its fellows don’t strive to have control over your data and how you leverage it. In fact, were open source databases to be so inflexible and controlling, they’d never have achieved the innovative potential that makes them so popular.

The Postgres community is full of founders, experts, evangelists, developers and every-day users who are constantly pushing the envelope on what this DBMS can achieve. The flexibility of the database allows each and every member of the community to innovate and each and every innovation empowers all other members of the community. 

These solutions offer the definition of “a rising tide lifts all boats.”


Leverage the power of the open source community

It’s impossible to overstate how essential that sense of community has been in the popularity of open source. One of the clearest examples of this is in the support and expertise such a network provides.

Commercial databases will often mention that they’re compatible with major open source solutions like Postgres or Linux. While that may be true, compatibility doesn’t automatically mean that your provider’s support team will be able to help you when your integrated Postgres has a problem.

At the end of the day, the support provided by a database provider will mainly be focused on the functionality of that provider’s database, not the solutions that you were told you could integrate. On the other hand, open source communities are always ready to provide resources for fixing even the most obscure bugs, exploring unique problems and collaborating to keep elevating the ceiling.

You are unlikely to find a more responsive support infrastructure than that provided by open source communities like that backing Postgres. With open source, the people who help you aren’t just looking to make sure you renew your license; they embody the meaning of the word support.


Make the most of your resources

Marc Linster, EDB’s CTO, has a favorite piece of wisdom when it comes to open source DBMS: “People come for the savings but they stay for the innovation.” We believe that these two core features are inextricable from one another. 

We’ll start with the savings.

One of the most common criticisms of commercial databases is that, given their limitations and restrictions, the cost—which seems to go up and up and up every renewal—just doesn’t justify the results they offer. Not only might you find yourself paying for tools you never use but you’re also paying for the privilege of being told that some tools you want to use are out of bounds. 

This is often top of mind for enterprises that turn to databases like Postgres—it’s free! In fact, even businesses who choose to invest in database specialist partners like EDB will often report massive savings in comparison to their previous licenses, simply by virtue of not having to spend on internal support or database administration teams.

But, as with all good investments, the value of open source DBMS extends beyond simply saving money. Every dollar that an enterprise isn’t spending on an expensive database that doesn’t actually empower their digital transformation can now go towards modernization initiatives that propel that enterprise to an industry leading position. Every second that DevOps and architecture teams don’t have to spend navigating an infrastructure unsuited to your organization’s ambitions can be spent innovating and evolving your applications. Every resource that didn’t provide you value before is now free for you to use as you will. 

This doesn’t just allow you to compete, it provides you with the potential to be the head of the pack.


Drive digital innovation with open source DBMS

Ultimately, the answer to “why are open source DBMS more popular than commercial mainstays?” is a simple one: because it has proven itself to be a better ally to organizations invested in modernization and evolution. 

With their flexibility, innovative potential, robust community and cost-efficiency, open source databases like Postgres are taking the lead in an era defined by digital transformation that touches every industry.

And the answer to our second question, “why should this matter to you?” In an ever-innovating world, it can’t be frustrating enough to try to keep apace with the trends and developments that your competitors seize on. Not only does this provide you with flexibility and freedom to compete, but database solutions like Postgres empower you to succeed in all the ways you want to.

Do you want to experience the full power of open source databases? Download our eBook, 7 Critical Success Factors for Moving to Open Source Databases (like Postgres).

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