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Postgres Plus goes cloudy

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EnterpriseDB is trying to pump up the PostgreSQL database to do battle with Oracle 11g and, to a lesser extent, IBM's DB2 and Microsoft's SQL. So the database upstart is upgrading its Postgres Plus Advanced Server 9.1 - and kicking it onto Amazon's EC2 compute cloud to peddle it alongside Amazon's own Relational Database Service.

As El Reg previously reported, the open source PostgreSQL relational database was updated to the 9.1 release level last September, with a lot of the work being done by a team at EnterpriseDB, which has become the "Red Hat for PostgreSQL," led by Robert Haas, the senior architect at the company.

With the open source PostgreSQL 9.1 that debuted in September, synchronous replication between clustered databases – available on a per-transaction, per-user, or per-connection basis, not across the entire system – was the big feature. So was unlogged tables, a feature that allows intermediate tables (such as end user session tables) to be omitted from asynchronous or synchronous replication to boost the performance of the overall database when it is clustered.

These and other PostgreSQL 9.1 features have now been rolled up into the commercial-grade Postgres Plus Advanced Server 9.1 from EnterpriseDB. Sean Doherty, vice president of business development at the company, tells El Reg that a number of new features, which the EntepriseDB team did in conjunction with database experts at HP, are being rolled up in Advanced Server 9.1. HP and EnterpriseDB have worked deep down in the guts of the database engine to improve the read and write performance of the database and help PostgreSQL scale across more processor cores.

"Customers are looking for something secondary, and MySQL is not the answer because that is Oracle's, too," says Doherty.

Given all of its woes with Oracle over the HP-UX/Itanium platform, HP is keen on peddling PostgreSQL on its high-end Xeon-based ProLiant DL980 eight-socket servers as well as on the Itanium-based Integrity blades and Superdome 2 servers. Postgres Plus Advanced Server 9.0, which debuted last July, was the first release to support HP-UX – the HP-UX 11i v3 release, to be precise. You could roll your own PostgreSQL database from the source for HP-UX 10.X and 11.X versions for many years, for PA-RISC or Itanium processors.

With Advanced Server 9.1, the read and write functions of the database can now scale efficiently across 32 cores, up from 24 cores with the 9.0 release. Doherty says its labs can push it to 64 cores and there's no reason that it can't be pushed up further.

It will need to be if Postgres Plus Advanced Server is to be a true alternative to Oracle 11g among HP shops. That eight-socket DL980 can support 80 cores today, and a Superdome 2 tops out at 32 sockets and 128 cores, with the count doubling sometime this year with Intel's "Poulson" Itanium processors.

EnterpriseDB has a slew of features that lets the PostgreSQL database be "skinned" so it looks like an Oracle database. IBM has a stake in EnterpriseDB and licenses this skinning technology to make use of it in its own DB2 database for Windows, Linux, and Unix, although it doesn't make a lot of noise about this.

Oracle compatibility is a big deal, and with PostgreSQL Plus Advanced Server 9.1, the commercial-grade database from EnterpriseDB is getting what is called a virtual private database in the Oracle world. Virtual private databases provide locking at the row and column level so users can be kept from seeing subsets of the information in a database.

The read and write performance improvements being added to Postgres Plus Advanced Server 9.1 will be turned back over to the PostgreSQL community and are expected to be further tuned and put into the future PostgreSQL 9.2 release, according to Doherty.

Postgres Plus Advanced Server 9.1 is supported on Linux, Windows, Solaris, HP-UX, Mac OS X, and FreeBSD platforms. It costs $4,395 per socket for an annual support subscription for standard 9x5 business hours and $4,945 per socket for 24x7 premium support.

Taking on Amazon and MySQL, too

On the cloud front, EnterpriseDB has begun shipping its Postgres Plus Cloud Database service, which was in beta testing last September when the open source PostgreSQL 9.1 database came out. The cloudy database service is meant to be an alternative to Amazon's MySQL-derived Relational Data Service and just like RDS, it runs on Amazon's EC2 compute cloud and makes use of the storage clouds to store data.

The service includes autoscaling, snapshots, cloning, and automated database administration functions, and Doherty says the pricing is very simple: EnterpriseDB is charging exactly the same price for its database service as Amazon charges for RDS.

The EnterpriseDB cloud service is comprised of a management console for running the clusters of database images, and you can plug in the freebie PostgreSQL or the supported Postgres Plus Advanced Server on the EC2 cloud. If you want to manage the databases yourself, have at it with the console. Or, if you have some extra dough and you are feeling lazy, you can pay EnterpriseDB an additional support contract to manage keeping the databases up and running smoothly.

Doherty says that HP is very interested in putting this cloud-enabled version of PostgreSQL onto its OpenStack-based Cloud Compute infrastructure cloud service. CloudBees and Engine Yard are supporting it on their clouds as well. ®

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