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Open source EnterpriseDB takes aim at Oracle customers

CEO Andy Astor tells how exactly EnterpriseDB hopes to lure Oracle customers over to the open source world.

NASHVILLE – Open source software vendor EnterpriseDB Corp. kicked off the Collaborate '06 conference today by unveiling new functionally designed to make it easier for Oracle users to switch to EnterpriseDB's namesake PostgreSQL-based database management system.

Andy Astor, EnterpriseDB's president and chief executive officer

Andy Astor, EnterpriseDB's president and chief executive officer, said the new release also adds enhanced security and encryption, native XML support, an improved interactive debugger that adds support for Oracle-style packages, an integrated job scheduler, and support for advanced message queuing. caught up with Astor to find out exactly how EnterpriseDB hopes to lure Oracle customers over to the open source world. Astor, a former vice president webMethods, also talked about a big new deal with online games developer Sony Online Entertainment, which plans to migrate off Oracle in favor of EnterpriseDB gradually over the next two years. 

Can you tell me a little about the new functionality EnterpriseDB announced today?

Astor: Right now the [EnterpriseDB] database is Oracle compatible, so any application can talk to it. What we're announcing [now] is that in addition to the deep Oracle compatibility that we have today, we're coming out with a data version of update one of our software. What update one has is the ability to browse your Oracle databases as well as your EnterpriseDB databases and [migrate data] between them. The point is that the applications are already compatible, but what we're going to do is automate the migration of the databases themselves so that you can take an Oracle database and literally drag it and drop it into EnterpriseDB. The EnterpriseDB database tables will be created and then you can also automatically fill them directly with the data right out of Oracle.

What does the interface look like on something like that?

Astor: It's all graphical. It's all integrated into our tool set which is called Developer Studio. Developer Studio currently lets you browse any EnterpriseDB or Postgres table. The new version of Developer Studio will allow you to browse Oracle as well and graphically drag and drop to put databases and their contents anywhere in between.

Can you tell us a little about the deal EnterpriseDB recently signed with Sony Online Entertainment?

Astor: Back in mid to late March, we announced that Sony Online Entertainment, which is the leading online games company in the world, has selected EnterpriseDB as their strategic database platform. It is the first household name that has selected EnterpriseDB and is migrating off Oracle as their database platform. They run these massive multiplayer online role playing games like Everquest and Star Wars. They have hundreds of thousands of subscribers around the world. And I often tell this story: If you were an Everquest character and you pushed Run-Forward and you stayed in that mode constantly, you would have to hold the button down [for over a month] before you hit repeated content. That's how data intensive it is. It's extraordinarily transactional.

That sounds like a massive undertaking for Sony. How will the migration process play out?

Astor: It's going to be a two year process. The whole point of EnterpriseDB, and one of the main reasons that Sony was so intrigued with us, is the fact that we're Oracle compatible out of the box. You can take an application that points to an Oracle database - and in this case it's Sony's applications - and you can point them to EnterpriseDB and they run with virtually no change. When we say Oracle compatibility that's what we're talking about. 

What else is new at EnterpriseDB?

Astor: Actually there is an enormous amount new with EnterpriseDB. We just finished the first quarter and we exceeded all of our targets, and while we don't share specific numbers, we blew away all of our targets in terms of new customers, revenues and in terms of new partners and so fourth. We announced a Novell partnership a few weeks ago. We are one of five companies they are partnering with this year in the open source space to increase their open source ecosystem and to give us access to their channels. We also announced less than a week ago a strategic partnership with JBoss, which we've been working with them for some time but happened to be announced just a couple of days after the acquisition by Red Hat. That strategic relationship will involve joint product offerings that are not yet announced and joint marketing and joint selling to the enterprise application development market. We will be announcing additional partnerships and customers over the next two weeks.

What are the proprietary components of EnterpriseDB?

Astor: EnterpriseDB is a commercial open source product which means that the extensions that we've done – the Oracle compatibility for example – is code that we share with customers who subscribe to our service but it is not under the BSD or the GPL license. It's an EnterpriseDB license. They can do anything they want [to the code], they just can't redistribute it.

What kind of support can your customers get from the open source community?

Astor: There are actually a couple of communities. There is the Postgres community, and then there is also an EnterpriseDB-specific community, both of which are accessible from forums.

When is it prudent to use EnterpriseDB and Oracle together?

Astor: Well, it's going to take Sony two years to do their migration. There is billions of dollars worth of Oracle and we don't expect everybody to change overnight. But in almost every company there are opportunities for pilots and for replacement applications. The acceptance of our Oracle compatibility has been very gratifying. And we're finding that more companies are interested in replacing more Oracle even faster than we anticipated. Having said that, we don't expect or recommend that anybody just rip and replace their entire Oracle infrastructure overnight. You know it has to be done in a measured and enterprise-saavy way.

What does EnterpriseDB do better than Oracle?

Astor: Oracle quite frankly does more than we do. If you're looking for Oracle's Real Application Clustering (RAC) capability, that's not something that we do without partners right now. Oracle has a very, very robust database. But most people don't need some percentage of what Oracle offers and we find that for 80-90% of the applications we see the code works unchanged. We also have seven by 24 support and we spend a great deal of time, energy and money building that support organization and our customers tell us that they get personalized support that is just not possible from a large organization like Oracle.

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