Back in the 1980s, the technology world experienced the first wave of open source software, thanks to platforms like Linux. Programmers, hobbyists and other open source proponents loved the nature of a software that could be constantly refined and tweaked with the help of a vibrant developer and user community. Companies, however, had difficulty imagining open source solutions powering mission-critical applications. They wondered aloud whether it was possible to trust software developed as a hobby in someone’s basement.
How could anyone in their right mind imagine moving from a powerful and expensive operating system to a free, community-driven solution?
Flippant remarks like those were inevitably misguided, as the coming years drove the widespread adoption of the Linux. The operating system came to be perceived as a piece of tooling, making it easy for organizations to exchange components to meet their particular needs rather than depend on an expensive all-in-one solution.
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The next wave of open source software has started to affect components making up mission-critical applications, like the relational database management system. As IT departments begin to exchange expensive legacy software like Oracle® for affordable, flexible open source solutions, many of the same concerns once levied against Linux are being applied to Postgres:
Why move to an open source platform when we’ve been using Oracle for 30 years?
Once again, organizations are waking up to the realization that open source database solutions like Postgres offer greater capacity, flexibility and support that isn’t entirely dependent on any one company or developer. Postgres, like Linux before it, has been (and continues to be) engineered by dedicated users solving day-to-day business problems who choose to return their solutions to the community. Unlike a large developer like Oracle, which may have different motives of developing products that are profitable or support a narrow but lucrative market, the Postgres community is committed to developing the best possible tools for everyday relational database users.
This speaks directly to my experience deciding to switch from Oracle to Postgres. For many years, I was deeply involved in the Oracle community as an Oracle DBA. But over time, as Oracle began diversifying its product portfolio, its focus started drifting from its core database technology to a wider range of application development and infrastructure solutions. This led to a change in Oracle’s business model, eliminating database products that were popular with smaller customers working with a limited budget range in favor of solutions that catered to large organizations with deep pockets. As it became more difficult (and expensive) to do business with Oracle, it became necessary to find a solution that focused strictly on the relational database.
Postgres emerged as the best choice because, like Linux before it, it’s an open source tool that exists to carry out specific tasks without added complexity. It’s designed for ease of use and implementation, focused strictly on handling the database without having to waste resources managing additional IT environments through added “features.” That’s one of the first things clients notice when they migrate from Oracle to Postgres: Rather than requiring people to spend hours studying complex technology about how an Oracle database functions, Postgres makes it simple to carry out many of the same functions as Oracle in a matter of minutes.
Since Postgres was introduced in the 1980s, the platform has enjoyed decades of time having developers work to create extensions. That sort of community support doesn’t exist with closed platforms like Oracle, which relies on its own directives to determine the future of the software. With Postgres, if there’s a problem you want to solve using a relational database engine, there’s a good chance someone has already solved it — and documented the solution or built an extension.
Organizations that seem hesitant about migrating to Postgres are plagued with a fear of jumping into cold water: Why change course after relying on a vendor like Oracle for decades? But as Oracle continues to grow more difficult and expensive to do business with, it becomes clear that Postgres offers a more flexible, robust and affordable alternative. With enterprise-ready options like EDB Postgres™ built to handle the security and stability needs of organizations large and small, it’s never been more clear that the relational database of the future will be powered by a different "O" word: open.