New Database Inroads


The MySQL database, which has been in alpha test for a year, promises support for stored procedures, triggers and viewsall features on the wish list of larger companies.

MySQL, along with PostgreSQL, is a favorite among the open-source database crowd, who say those offerings increasingly bump up against such standbys as Oracle and IBM DB2, especially as those venerable databases start attacking smaller businesses and corporate departments.

Chris Maresca, co-founder of Olliance Group, Palo Alto, Calif., said PostgreSQL fulfills sophisticated database functions such as those found in commercial proprietary offerings. "[Customers] want the kind of complex transaction controls, table-level dependencies and triggers that Postgre has and MySQL doesn't," he said. In an interview, Mickos acknowledged some MySQL-to-PostgreSQL migration, but shrugged it off.

"They [PostgreSQL] absolutely try to be an Oracle replacement. We do not. We're here for new markets," Mickos told CRN. "When we say we want the enterprise, we target new needs [within large companies]," he said.

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Mickos said MaxDB, the database MySQL took over from SAP, directly competes with PostgreSQL. MySQL, Seattle, now offers subscription support costing from $595 to $4,995 per server per year.

Pervasive Software, Austin, Texas, threw its weight behind PostgreSQL earlier this year and now offers PostgreSQL version 8.

PostgreSQL is typically distributed under the BSD license, so developers who want to distribute it with their own products can do so. "Anyone or any company can redistribute it as they wish install it, bundle it in their software and not pay a cent," said Robby Russell, owner of Planet Argon, a Portland, Ore., developer in the PostgreSQL camp. "As a programmer, I side with PostgreSQL because it gives my clients the flexibility to take the work I do and resell it as a complete package whereas with MySQL, they would have to purchase a license that would allow them to do this."

A developer using MySQL and bundling the database in a product has to useand pay forthe commercial version.

On the proprietary database side, others maintain that momentum for full-featuredand full-priceddatabases remains strong. "We only see MySQL when we're replacing it," said Ron Zapar, president of Re-Quest, a Chicago-based Oracle partner.

A mid-Atlantic solution provider who deals with DB2 and Oracle said once MySQL support options are factored in, it comes close to equaling the price of low-end offerings from Oracle, Redwood Shores, Calif., and IBM, Armonk, N.Y.

Such posturing comes at an interesting time. Microsoft, Redmond, Wash., is still struggling to get its Yukon release of SQL Server out the door this summer as promised, a time frame many industry observers say is unlikely. Beta 3, due out this month, is expected to include Microsoft's newly acquired ActiveViews ad hoc query technology.

On another front, resellers said Oracle and IBM eventually must adapt their database licensing policies to account for a new generation of Intel multicore microprocessors. Microsoft has said it will let users run its software, including SQL Server, on the multicore CPUs without any additional charge. Traditional Oracle and IBM licensing models, however, would charge more for the use of such chips.

One database solution provider, who requested anonymity, said it's inevitable that Oracle and IBM will follow Microsoft's lead on the multicore issue. "Oracle will absolutely have to move, but in the meantime it will maximize the revenue it can get as long as it can," he said.

Oracle is pushing its Linux database as a way to cut total cost. But the enterprise version of Oracle 10g costs $40,000 per CPU, plus $20,000 per CPU for clustering. Customers may wonder why they're paying that much for software running on boxes that cost a few thousand dollars, some solution providers say.