Overcoming Obstacles in Today’s Database Management Market

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Pierre FrickeIn this special guest feature, Pierre Fricke, Vice President of Product Marketing at EnterpriseDB, provides his perspectives on best practices for overcoming today’s most pressing database challenges, and how open source technologies can simplify matters. Pierre has a long history in open source software. He spent 10 years as director of product marketing for JBoss Middleware. He had joined JBoss Inc. just over a year before its acquisition by Red Hat in 2006 and stayed on until he joined EDB. He first became involved in open source software in 1998 during his 17 years at IBM. Fricke played a critical role in establishing IBM’s Linux and open source strategy as one of seven team leaders whose contributions are still utilized today. Pierre is primarily responsible for defining EnterpriseDB’s strategy and driving new marketing messages that bridge the traditional database world to the new unstructured opportunities for customers.

For as long as data has existed, it has been someone’s responsibility to manage it. While this sounds simple enough, the profession of database administration has changed significantly over time, particularly in recent years. The database management industry has enjoyed impressive growth as businesses increasingly leverage data to harvest greater visibility into their customers and prospects. The 21st century has ushered in a Golden Age for producing, capturing and managing more data than ever before.

At the same time, database administrators (DBAs) are now forced to confront new challenges, including the following:

  • Growth in Data Volume, Velocity and Variety – DBAs face the challenge of managing greater data volumes moving at higher velocities as well as an increasing variety of data types. These three traits are characteristic of what has become known as Big Data.
  • Heterogeneous Data Centers – The typical data center today contains a patchwork of data management technologies – from enterprise-class relational databases to standalone NoSQL-only solutions to specialized extensions. DBAs must be adept at managing them all.
  • Cloud Databases – Cloud deployments have become a precondition to business success, and DBAs must juggle databases running on-premises and in the cloud – including hybrid, public and private clouds.
  • Database Security – The most valuable asset of every company today is its data, and protecting it has become a cornerstone of data center development and strategy.

Fortunately, most of these problems have been solved, with a solution already close at hand.

Relational database management systems (RDBMSs) have evolved to accommodate changing requirements in today’s data center. They are the keystone of corporate value and actionable intelligence, holding data from transactional, business, customer, supply chain and other critical corporate systems. What’s more, recent advances in open source-based relational databases have added performance, security and other enterprise-class capabilities that put them on par with traditional vendors for almost all corporate workloads. As a result, for many DBAs, the solution to their new challenges is already in place.

Machines and “smart” devices interconnect through the expanding Internet of Things, producing increasingly varied types of data. RDBMSs have been expanded with greater capacity to support them. In the case of Postgres, the RDBMS supports new data types, but also stores them in an unstructured manner alongside structured, relational data. This has the added benefit of bringing ACID qualities to the unstructured data. Advances in recent years have also expanded Postgres’ performance and scalability to handle rising data volumes and high velocity data collection rates.

Postgres also plays a central role as a federated database in increasingly disparate, heterogeneous data center environments. Postgres can connect to other database solutions and pull data in, combine it with native data as well as data from other sources, and let database professionals read and interpret data from across multiple platforms in a single, cohesive view. Whether the data sources stem from social media, mobile applications, smart manufacturing systems or government (e.g., Department of Homeland Security) monitoring systems, multi-format data can be combined – with ACID compliance – into a single view in Postgres. Postgres achieves this using a feature called a Foreign Data Wrapper. This feature pulls data from other databases and displays it in Postgres alongside native and other data so that data professionals can work with it as if the data were already populated in the database.

Cloud adoption increases steadily as companies continue to advance from development and testing on the cloud to production deployments. It was ranked the fourth-highest enterprise spending category in a May 2015 survey by Cowen & Company, with many companies predicting more of their processes could be moved into the cloud. The benefits of an open-source RDBMS in the cloud, like Postgres, is portability. Using a standards-based database like Postgres in the cloud enables DBAs to leverage an enterprise-class database across multiple deployment environments and still maintain control over their data.

Open source software has a strong story in the database security discussion, particularly Postgres. There is a great deal of mystery about open source software and questions remain over how it is developed and how security is enforced. Postgres, in fact, has a reputation for being the most secure open source database. The Postgres code base is managed by multiple classes of contributors who serve in clearly defined roles; code is inspected, analyzed and tested code before it’s accepted, and there redundancies in the process with even top-level community members subject to peer review.

The Postgres community also continually works to add new security features as end users require. The expanding use of Postgres in highly sensitive government and healthcare environments prompted the community to add in the latest release, PostgreSQL 9.5, an important new security feature. It gives DBAs broad new powers to control who can see data on a much more granular level than before.

Many relational databases, in addition to Postgres, are evolving to accommodate the changing data requirements of end users and high-performance environments. These advancements comes as DBAs face new challenges. But overcoming them can be as simple as learning new ways to utilize one of the most familiar components of the data center – the relational database management system.


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