Originally Published: Wednesday, 24 May 2000 Author: Tom Dominico, Jr.
Published to: featured_articles/Featured Articles Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

The Final Nail in the Coffin

It's getting harder for people to argue that Linux is not ready for the enterprise. It runs top services such as Apache, Sendmail, BIND. For file serving, it supports NFS, and improvements in the 2.4 kernel series mean that the OS as a whole will scale even better, making it perfect for enterprise-level applications. Until recently, there was one thing missing: an enterprise-class database.

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It's getting harder for people to argue that Linux is not ready for the enterprise. It runs top services such as Apache, Sendmail, BIND. For file serving, it supports NFS, and improvements in the 2.4 kernel series mean that the OS as a whole will scale even better, making it perfect for enterprise-level applications. Until recently, there was one thing missing: an enterprise-class database.

There is no denying the importance of the database in today's business world. Databases power everything from e-commerce sites to critical applications (financials, ERP, and so on). OK, maybe I'm a little biased since I work as a DBA/developer, but the point is quite valid. Until recently, database servers were the last stronghold of the commercial Unix variants, and of Windows NT/2000.

Oracle, arguably the most popular enterprise RDBMS, took notice of Linux and decided to port their database to the upstart OS. The first release was somewhat unpolished, with a rather complicated installation. The second release, made available just a few days ago, is supposed to remedy these problems. I was lucky enough to attend the recent Oracle users group conference, and it was refreshing to see the interest in the Linux platform. In fact, an entire day was devoted to sessions on Linux, and a Linux Special Interest Group is being formed to keep the momentum going.

The fact that an enterprise-class RDBMS is available for Linux is good news in itself, and takes away what may possibly be the last excuse not to replace your commercial Unix box with Linux. However, Oracle is not an open source product. As a believer in free software, I've always hoped that a worthy competitor to products like Oracle would emerge from the community. It seems that I'm not the only one who feels this way, as PostgreSQL has recently received commercial support from a start-up that hopes it will be the "next big thing." If they can beef it up and improve its performance, it will be a serious competitor to any commercial offering.

An open source database has the potential to be "bigger and better" than any closed-source competitor. Why? Well, for one thing, if I want to see a new feature added, there's nothing stopping me from doing it myself (assuming my coding skills were good enough, of course). With a commercial offering, I can only send a request to the company and pray that someone takes a look at it. With a potentially unlimited number of developers working on PostgreSQL from around the globe, it could quickly become a very worthy competitor in the RDBMS marketplace.

A quality open source RDBMS is the "final nail in the coffin" for the various other operating systems. Linux already powers a good number of corporate fileservers, ISPs, etc. Now, it will be able to hold its own as an enterprise-class database server, with both free and commercial products to choose from. Kudos to Oracle for supporting Linux, and best of luck to the PostgreSQL team in their quest to provide a high quality, open source RDBMS. Once again, it's an exciting time to be a Linux user!

Tom Dominico (tomd@linux.com) is a programmer, database administrator, and Linux convert. Cursed with insomnia, he spends his sleepless nights chatting on IRC, tweaking his Linux box, and reading everything he can get his hands on.





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