Aaron Cordova's Blog

Open Source Databases

open source databases

I realized that what I like about Open source projects in general is that they can actually be easier to use than commercial products. The reasoning behind this claim is that open source projects usually don't have a major company pushing it onto customers and offering support so they depend on users downloading, installing, and configuring the software themselves. Software that is complicated will simply fail if there isn't a commercial entity providing training and support.

When it comes to databases, which can be extremely complicated, the value of an open source product is greater, since the dependence of a company for a complicated database drives up support costs.
Employing DBAs trained or employed by a database vendor is out of the question for many small to medium size organizations. There is also value in simplicity itself: since it is easier to reason about a simple design and achieve a correct implementation, the software will scale better and more reliably.

The tradeoff is that, in order to become successful, an open source project must meet the needs of a critical number of users, so organizations with special needs will have a hard time finding the features they require. This is where commercial databases tend to do better since they are incentivized to add more features into their product to keep customers from straying. One side effect is that these features complicate the system and increase dependence on the vendor.