“Anybody who claims that their database solves all problems is lying to their customers,” says EDB’s Marc Linster
Databases are crucial for businesses to organise the information they collect, but in recent years the number in use has spiralled out of control. We talked to Marc Linster, CTO at EDB - which provides software and services based on the database PostgreSQL (Postgres) - to see what the future might hold.
The number of databases in use continues to climb, and organisations increasingly utilise them for a variety of purposes like event streaming, transactions and analytics. With that in mind, there is a real risk in ending up with multiple siloes of functionality. Linster says standardisation is the solution:
"Understanding the fit for function, and then standardising on that, is extremely important… Postgres is not a panacea, but it meets more than 80 per cent of the needs. Enterprises need to issue solid guidance, and Postgres will play a key role to cover a large percentage of those needs. We have many customers who have made Postgres the standard, and anybody who wants to select another database needs to justify that choice."
Functionality is not the only silo that can emerge in databases: technical siloes are a common challenge. Linster explains that understanding a product's capabilities is important, and any vendor that oversells their solution probably has something to hide:
"It is important to understand that while Postgres has been used across the spectrum, there are specialty packages at the extremes that might be better point solutions - such as Snowflake for large scale data warehouses, Realm for mobile single user databases, or Hadoop for data lakes. Anybody who claims that their database solves all problems is lying to their customers."
While he accepts some healthy competition, Linster is not willing to cede ground to the big cloud vendors, who are increasingly trying to move into the database market.
"We are not concerned about the cloud vendors monopolising the market. Today, over 40 per cent of our customers report using some of their EDB products in the public cloud. Customers value EDB's Postgres expertise, our active participation in the community, and the fact that we can influence the Postgres roadmap to address a customer's strategic needs. Enterprise customers understand the value of the strategic relationship - especially when it comes to databases that hold the corporation's crown jewels."
One of cloud's biggest advantages is in its scalability and agility - and even there, Linster believes that EDB can compete with the best of them.
"Postgres is the #1 database deployed in containers today - I think that speaks for itself. Also, Postgres was declared database of the year three times by DBEngines, and it has persistently ranked very high as the most loved database on Stackoverflow's annual developer survey."
That's not to say Postgres is perfect - Linster would love to see the system move to a thread-based model and address "the bloat and vacuum issues" - but as he freely admits, no database can handle everything. Understanding the full range of a product's capabilities is essential when it comes to choosing a partner, especially in such a critical area of business.