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Oracle Pulls the Rug Out From Under PostgreSQL

07.29.2010
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Before the Oracle acquisition, Sun was contributing three servers to the build farm for the PostgreSQL project to test updates and ensure stability on Solaris.  Even though PostgreSQL was technically a competitor to Sun's MySQL, the company still supported development of the project and contributed DTrace support and other features to the platform.  This week, Oracle pulled the plug on those servers with no warning, causing a frantic search for new hosts.  This report first surfaced on the Australian business site, iTNews.

The move by Oracle seemed spiteful based on iTnews' interview with Andrew Dunstan who built the PostgreSQL build farm.  "If they had given us, say, three months warning, I'd have been less peeved," said Dunstan. "It can't have been costing them much - the thing pretty much runs itself, and they can't be short on hardware."  Dunstan said he "suspects" that Oracle does see PostgreSQL as a competitor, not only to their newly acquired MySQL database, but also to their proprietary one, Oracle DB.    Dunstan added however, "We are friendly rivals, not deadly enemies…  I have many friends and acquaintances in the MySQL world."

"Since I have personally been involved in migrating large apps from Oracle to PostgreSQL,  I can understand why they [Oracle] might feel like [competitors]," said Duntan, "but in the open source community, we try to be a bit less dog-eat-dog." 

It's possible that Oracle could be alarmed by the reports of more migrations from Oracle and MySQL to PostgreSQL, especially since the project recently unleashed PostgreSQL 9.0, which has some pretty great features.  EnterpriseDB is the commercial backer for PostgreSQL and a vendor of open core products based on the DB.  They say that monthly downloads of their PostgreSQL migration tool have gone up from 5k in early 2009 to 8k in November 2009.  It's hard to believe that this would be the petty motivation behind Oracle's sudden seizure of the machines.  

Luckily for the PostgreSQL project, EnterpriseDB has stepped forward with the servers to protect the development of their core technology.  Before today, they provided  4 Windows machines for the build farm, and today they stepped in with two Solaris Sparc machines to make up for the lost Oracle iron.  Dave Page, an employee of EnterpriseDB, is working on deploying two additional Solaris Intel machines, and two running Windows 7.  All of the hardware is coming from EnterpriseDB.   

PostgreSQL is used by Yahoo, Skype, MySpace, and many other organizations and independent developers.  

Comments

Rick Ross replied on Thu, 2010/07/29 - 1:24pm

Unless I am missing something, this sounds like an exceptionally petty thing for Oracle to have done. So far, I am not so thrilled about the "support" I see Oracle giving Java and other former activities of Sun. Ensuring that PostgreSQL works to everyone's benefit, and it could hardly impact Oracle's bottom line one way or another to support this testing.

Impressive, Oracle, very impressive!

Martin Spasovski replied on Thu, 2010/07/29 - 5:37pm

I'm not surprised by Oracles decision.

1st, they think in money, donating servers to something that doesn't benefit them isn't really what they do. 

2nd, PostgreSQL is really a competitor, in my opinion definitely better than MySQL, and in comparison to Oracle DB I don't have any experience, but if people migrate from Oracle DB to PostgreSQL, that means something. 

They really should have given them a warning that they'll pull the plug. It's not really that hard to send one email.

BTW, what's with all this mentioning of Windows machines at the end of the article? A machine is a machine, they can install Linux on them if it suits their needs :) 

 

 

 

Mitch Pronschinske replied on Thu, 2010/07/29 - 10:16pm in response to: Martin Spasovski

I meant 'machines running Windows'  :)

Steven Buttgereit replied on Thu, 2010/07/29 - 11:09pm

I do think PostgreSQL competes very well on a technology basis against MySQL (my assessment is that it is far superior in fact); when Oracle acquired Sun, I think a lot of MySQL people started to take a look at PostgreSQL as more palatable open source option.  I think a lot of them liked what they saw... unless they were with MySQL for its more 'forgiving' characteristics.  I also think that at the lower end of Oracle's flagship database market is starting to feel pressure from very capable commodity/open source options such as PostgreSQL and the EnterpriseDB product lines.

But the article makes an error which, indirectly, hides a bigger picture threat to some higher end markets I'm sure Oracle would like to own.  The error is in the statement, "EnterpriseDB is the commercial backer for PostgreSQL...".  It is true that EnterpriseDB is a commercial backer of PostgreSQL and certainly one of the most visible & overt... but it far from the only company tied to PostgreSQL.  Greenplum, Aster Data and Netezza all have PostgreSQL derivative products that compete very directly with Oracle's products.  True, the story of an Open Source David threatening a proprietary software Goliath isn't so romantic... but I suspect Oracle sees that it's not in their best interest to lend support and legitamcy to competing technologies under such circumstances. 

Anyway, my thoughts on all of this.

 

Cheers,

Steven C. Buttgereit

 

Loren Kratzke replied on Fri, 2010/07/30 - 12:57pm in response to: Rick Ross

I suspect that we will see more of this type of behavior from Oracle as the merger plays out.

 

RIchard replied on Sat, 2010/07/31 - 3:54am in response to: Loren Kratzke

I think you're right.

Roger Voss replied on Sun, 2010/08/01 - 10:25am

Why is this surprising and considered "shocking" and hence "newsworthy"? Who in their right mind would fund their competitors? We don't expect Ford to fund the GM Volt project. Oracle is in business to make a profit and hence a return for their shareholders. They should reserve corporate charity for the truly humanitarian causes, say, like a donation to the plight of Haiti. Sun was run by a granola bar hippy that drove a good company into the ground giving the store away at every opportunity. Even a multi-billion dollar company can't rely entirely on schemes where the so-called ROI is five to seven years out, and requires shrinking the company to a fifth or tenth of current size to live in the projected financials of the schemes (i.e., the classic open source style of business model).

Alessandro Santini replied on Mon, 2010/08/02 - 6:06am

I am still laughing thinking about all the bashing against IBM when they first tried to acquire Sun :)

"Oh yes, Oracle is a much better choice!"

#EPIC FAIL

Liezel Jane Jandayan replied on Mon, 2011/08/22 - 9:17pm

The PostgreSQL project continues to make major releases approximately annually and minor "bugfix" releases, all available under the same license. Code comes from contributions from proprietary vendors, support companies, and open-source programmers at large.-Yochanan Berkowitz

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