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PostgreSQL database specialist EnterpriseDB gets new backing

EnterpriseDB is looking to push its database further with help from new financial backers. The deal sees Postgres originator Michael Stonebraker coming onboard as technical adviser.

Commercial open source database vendor EnterpriseDB Corp. was acquired this week by Great Hill Partners, a private equity firm. EnterpriseDB had been held by investor PeakEquity Partners.

The company's new backer said it will work to accelerate increased usage of its EDB Postgres Platform. Some of that expansion will likely be on the cloud, a platform that is increasingly seeing new database development. Specific terms of the deal to purchase the PostgreSQL database provider were not disclosed.

EnterpriseDB also said database veteran Michael Stonebraker would join the company as a technical adviser.

Stonebraker played important roles in the formation of such data innovators as Ingres, Illustra, Vertica, VoltDB and others. The new role at EnterpriseDB is a homecoming of sorts for Stonebraker, who led the original PostgreSQL database project while teaching at the University of California, Berkeley, in the 1980s.

Stonebraker's PostgreSQL became one of the earliest open source software efforts. In recent years, its use has picked up alongside a general move to open source and cloud-oriented relational databases. PostgreSQL is currently listed fourth on DB-Engines Ranking, trailing only Oracle, MySQL and Microsoft SQL Server in popularity.

Michael Stonebraker, EnterpriseDBMichael Stonebraker

Like Red Hat with open source Linux operating systems, EnterpriseDB has endeavored to harden open source PostgreSQL for use in business enterprises. The company has directed engineering efforts to run its software on the cloud and has tuned its offering to more easily support migration of Oracle database applications. In the cloud, it competes with versions of open source PostgreSQL services sold by cloud vendors AWS, Google and IBM.

The appeal of open source relational database technology is growing in enterprises, according to Carl Olofson, an analyst at IDC.

"The interest in enterprises is rising, particularly as they consider which technical direction to take as they move toward cloud deployment," Olofson said.

But, he continued, "general awareness of EnterpriseDB has been lacking, even among those who are turning to PostgreSQL as a possible future data management foundation."

Olofson said, with the Great Hill Partners acquisition, EnterpriseDB will now have the resources to address a growing potential market for EDB Postgres.

Stonebraker looks out of box

In an interview this week at EnterpriseDB's Postgres Vision conference in Boston, Stonebraker said the company has already begun to move to improve the data warehouse capabilities of the database.

He indicated he expected EnterpriseDB to ramp up efforts to tune cloud-native capabilities of the database, particularly to optimize around cloud data storage management needs.

Continued emphasis will likely be placed on the out-of-the-box experience of EnterpriseDB software. Easier setups, especially for database extensions, will be important, he said.

"Great Hill is willing to invest in growing market share. The company going forward will be much more aggressive," Stonebraker said.

We are a database company, and I don't see this as a big change.
Bruce MomjianSenior database architect, EnterpriseDB

Bruce Momjian, senior database architect at EnterpriseDB and a core member of open source PostgreSQL's global development group for over 20 years, said the new backing will position the company for continued evolution.

"We are focused on our market. We are a database company, and I don't see this as a big change," he said.

While their support for the venerable SQL query language provides relational databases with a ready army of analytics developers, databases like PostgreSQL face competition on the cloud from highly scalable NoSQL databases that continue to add better transactional consistency and SQL-like abilities to their software.

Stonebraker's take on this is NoSQL originally meant "not SQL," then it meant "not just SQL," and it is now coming to mean "not yet SQL."

Benchmarks on JSON

The company also took on MongoDB, which last week at its own user conference announced support for Simple Storage Service object store queries using the MongoDB query language.

EnterpriseDB touted benchmarks showing four to 15 times faster performance for its database management system versus MongoDB in transaction performance tests, as well as performance advantages for handling JSON in online analytical processing applications. The benchmarks were conducted by OnGres, a database software and services company, and sponsored by EnterpriseDB.

Of course, as emphasized by Olofson, users need to compare benchmarks such as this with their own workloads and development styles.

"Potential users should take this test into account, along with a range of other factors in making a database technology decision," he said.

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