PostgreSQL open source database boasts Windows boost

Developers of platform seek enterprise play The PostgreSQL Development Group on Wednesday is releasing PostgreSQL 8.0, an upgrade to the open source object-relational database featuring native support for Windows.

The Windows functionality means users do not need an emulation layer to run the software on Microsoft's ubiquitous operating system. "Obviously, that's a huge performance improvement for Windows users," said Josh Berkus, a developer of PostgreSQL who serves on the project's steering committee. The native support is available for Windows 2000 and subsequent versions of the operating system.

With the 8.0 release, the development group is looking to compete more with major commercial database vendors such as Oracle Corp., IBM Corp., and Sybase Inc., Berkus said.

"We're closing the gap between us and the really big enterprise databases," said Berkus.

PostgreSQL is a stronger product than the rival MySQL open source database, which lacks capabilities such as stored procedures that PostgreSQL already has, according to Berkus. MySQL is planning to add stored procedures to its database later this year.

PostgreSQL also offers reliability advantages over MySQL, Berkus contended. "Their product was designed to be fast before being reliable, and ours was designed to be reliable before being fast," he said. A MySQL representative on Wednesday afternoon said MySQL would not respond to the claim because the company would not want to get involved in a "he said, she said" volley with another vendor.

Other improvements in Version 8.0 include the following:

* Savepoints, a SQL-standard feature allowing specific parts of a database transaction to be rolled back without aborting the entire application. This benefits developers who require complex transactions with error recovery, according to the PostgreSQL Development Group.

* Point in time recovery, to allow full data restoration from automatic, continuously archived transaction logs.

* Tablespaces, for administration of multi-gigabyte data warehouses. This feature allow for placement of large tables and indexes on individual disks or arrays to improve query performance.

* Improved memory and I/O, through use of the Adaptive Replacement Cache algorithm, a new background writer and vacuum delay feature.

PostgreSQL stacks up well against commercial rivals, said Noel Yuhanna, senior analyst at Forrester Research. "It certainly has some robust enterprise features, which are very comparable to some of the commercial databases," Yuhanna said.

Boosting Windows support will drive more customers to the platform, added Yuhanna. He predicts the open source database market will grow from about $120 million in revenues now to be a $1 billion business in three years.

Several companies are involved in developing PostgreSQL, Berkus said. Revenues are generated by companies selling either support or products that use the database, he said.

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