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EnterpriseDB goes large on simplicity

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EnterpriseDB, the open source database company, aims to capitalize on the uncertainty around MySQL's purchase by Sun Microsystems, and is wooing developers with improved capabilities and services.

According to chief executive Andy Astor, revenue has quadrupled in a year. But when it comes to developer uptake, PostgreSQL the open source database that EnterpriseDB is based upon, lags MySQL, its open source rival. EnterpriseDB has made much of its Oracle compatibility to persuade organizations to switch database suppliers and also of the claimed superior scalability to MySQL.

EnterpriseDB is now making noises that it can capitalize on the disruptive effects caused to MySQL by Sun's acquisition, announced this month, and confusion over Sun's strategy. Going against EnterpriseDB are the facts: a version of PostgreSQL ships with Solaris; and Sun's sales channel easily outguns EnterpriseDB.

On the plus side for EnterpriseDB: the company has a long list of consulting partners; and many people might not want to work with Sun - a company, it's fair to say, known for planting the kiss of death on the lips of software it owns. Also, there is no confusion over which storage engine to pick for EnterpriseDB - Oracle purchased one of MySQL's storage engine's - InnoDB - several years back. While Oracle has pledged continuation of InnoDB and alternatives do exist, Oracle's ownership has caused anxiety.

In a further stretch, EnterpriseDB is now making an effort to reach developers, this week launching the EnterpriseDB Advanced Server Cloud Edition, which will be available as a hosted service via Amazon's Elastic Computer Cloud (EC2) and Simple Storage Service (S3) web services. Chief technology officer Bob Zurek told Reg Dev that "simplicity" from download to installation features big in the company's future.

He also hinted at "interesting things in the near future that help developers", indicating possible projects that embrace PostgreSQL and REST. Astor believes EnterpriseDB is gaining respect among Ruby developers.

It remains to be seen what developers can expect from EnterpriseDB. Management is tight-lipped on details of those developer offerings. EnterpriseDB Advanced Server Cloud Edition, meanwhile, feels like a market-testing exercise rather than a completed service, as it's only in beta, there is no pricing, and EnterpriseDB is not saying what customers are using the service.

The right price along with level of support will be crucial for both developers and for EnterpriseDB, as the company is now placing great emphasis on encouraging developers to come to it and to act as a rallying point for the PostgreSQL community. Price, too, will help determine if EnterpriseDB can thrive or whether it will starve and is worth betting your infrastructure on.

Last month the company "revamped" the business model by axing an unspecified number of sales staff.

Astor told Register Developer: "We had overkill on the sales model. The sales model is now 'traditional' open source, where people download the software and the payment is later in the usage cycle.

"Most people buying our products and services are interested in finding out about us in their own time... we don't need to be out there pushing the product with a very expensive salesforce."

It's a hard, but frequently repeated, lesson: that open source developers download what they want and buy licenses and support when, and only when, they are ready or cannot get around running and deploying the product on their own. ®

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