Start-up enters open-source database melee

By making PostgreSQL compatible with Oracle and others commercial databases, EnterpriseDB looks to undercut incumbents on price.

Martin LaMonica
Martin LaMonica Former Staff writer, CNET News
Martin LaMonica is a senior writer covering green tech and cutting-edge technologies. He joined CNET in 2002 to cover enterprise IT and Web development and was previously executive editor of IT publication InfoWorld.
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Start-up EnterpriseDB is entering the business database market head-on, using open-source PostgreSQL as its starting point--and lower cost as its selling point.

On Monday, the 45-person company detailed its business plan and released a beta, or test version, of its database product called EnterpriseDB 2005.

EnterpriseDB intends to sell support services on a subscription basis to companies that use its open-source database and related tools.

By building on top of PostgreSQL, a freely available open-source database that has been in the market for more than 20 years, the company can undercut entrenched database providers on price "by a wide margin," said Andy Astor, CEO of EnterpriseDB.

"Databases are so overly priced and complex, we think there really is a market?for good-quality, enterprise-class answers," he said.

Astor said that it's unrealistic to expect large corporations to simply dump their existing database applications in one fell swoop. To help break into those accounts, EnterpriseDB engineers have sought to make PostgreSQL more compatible with existing databases.

In the first version, the EnterpriseDB 2005 database works with the querying languages used in Oracle and Microsoft databases. Astor indicated that his company is working on compatibility with other widely used databases.

Adding support for common querying languages will make it relatively easy for corporate customers to move existing database applications to EnterpriseDB 2005, Astor said. For example, queries or stored procedures--essentially database programs--would not need to be rewritten.

In the short term, he expects that the Edison, N.J.-based company's primary competition will be other open-source database companies, notably MySQL, a company that has seen rapid growth and increasing acceptance in corporations.

The entrance of EnterpriseDB into the database market follows that of GreenPlum earlier this year, which is using PostgreSQL to build a database optimized for large-scale analytics.

Another company that recently sought to commercialize PostrgreSQL is Pervasive Software, which earlier this year started to offer support services for the database.

Large providers are also using an open-source model to drive acceptance of their databases.

IBM last year created an open-source project around its Cloudscape Java database, which Computer Associates International did with its Ingres database. Sun Microsystems has indicated that it also plans to offer an open-source database called SunDB.