Open-source Database

Open Source

Databases should be chosen to match your company’s strategy.

They are the hidden workhorses of many organizations’ IT systems, holding critical business intelligence and carrying out hundreds of thousands of transactions each day.

In many ways, the database has become a commodity. Products differ on price, performance, ease of database administration and functionality.
There is a huge choice of database management systems (DBMS), which includes Open-source, NoSQL, and Relational Database Management System (RDBMS). In order to successfully choose which DBMS is right for your project or organization, it is vital that you understand exactly what the implications are with each one.

Open-source is a term used for technology which is free to use and distribute, and whose code is free to edit. Examples of open-source software are MySQL and Postgres (database management), Apache (web server), Linux (operating system).

The most obvious benefit of using open-source software is there is no purchasing cost.  There are no complicated licensing schemes to manage and no mandatory technology support cost overhead.  Having access to the source code also makes the open-source technology flexible; anyone can modify the code to meet his or her specific needs. Off the shelf software has very well documented configuration settings for their application. This means that there are limited permutations to how one could configure them, which therefore means that they could be hacked with varying levels of effort. One unexpected benefit of having the code available to your entire staff is that the software is more secure, as staff would have access to the source code, and could make much more customized changes to the software, making it virtually impossible for anyone on the outside to hack.

When it comes to database management software, the gap between open-source and proprietary is not as great as it used to be. Top 4 are still Oracle, IBM, Microsoft, SAP & Teradata. But open source software are 5 of top 10 most popular DBMS currently rolled out in production environments. Definitely expanding beyond niche applications, mainly because they have become more and more robust in terms of what they offer. The user-based community development ensures that you can learn from others’ uses cases, and the features you care about are the ones you invest in, or crowd-source. This argument is even more pertinent when it comes to NoSQL databases.

However, this is not to say that the total cost of ownership is $0.00.  If you decide to use open-source software and customize it, you become fully responsible for any updates/maintenance to the code.  Although there are user group communities that collaborate to support the various technologies, as well as organizations which you can pay to help support your code, if they do not have the history of all the changes and full knowledge of your specific environment, it can become rather costly to maintain. They would also have to be facing the same or similar situations you have been to be valuable. Fortunately, PostgreSQL and MySQL (the top 2 RDBMS) have made great strides in their offerings, and their adoption rates are relatively high enough now that they can easily be used for most mission-critical business applications.

Secondary costs such as servers, administrators also factor into costing model for database implementations. Most open-source DBMS can function on commodity servers which are much more cost effective when it comes to scaling than hardware + associated licensing costs of proprietary software which are typically a factor of the processor type used.

In addition to cost, however, one should consider how the database would be used:

  • Is the database mainly a repository for backend processes, or will it need to be more client-facing?
  • Does it need a high security level?
  • Is there staff available already has the knowledge, or the capacity to acquire more?
  • Would the database need to integrate with other stacks (and are they themselves proprietary)?

At FlockNet we have expert Database Administrators and Developers that can help you navigate this complex world of databases. We will map your needs to the appropriate DBMS, ensuring that you are fitted with the software that is right for you. Call us today to discuss your web, software and database needs.