February 15, 2008

Database management system choices – 4 categories of relational

This is the second of a five-part series on database management system choices. For the first post in the series, please click here.

For the most part, relational database management systems divide into four major classes:

High-end OLTP relational database management systems are complex and mature products, differentiated mainly on reliability, availability, performance, scalability, security, license cost, maintenance cost, programming/administration cost, and datatype support. All except the last point can be evaluated pretty effectively on an outside-in basis. That is, is suffices to look at proven results, without worrying a whole lot about architecture or product futures. Just remember that a lot of the high-end features come through extra-cost add-ins, which need to be included in any evaluation.

That said — most evaluations of high-end OLTP RDBMS are pretty moot anyway. Large enterprises usually have one favored vendor, who provides a significant quantity discount on license and maintenance costs. Using the OLTP RDBMS you already have also usually leads to significant efficiencies in administration expense. Thus, the high-end OLTP is the one part of the DBMS market that truly is as mature as conventional wisdom would have us believe – at least, that is, until something like H-Store comes to fruition.

Even so, high-end relational OLTP DBMS vendors face two major competitive challenges, which are taking significant share of new applications within those vendors’ installed bases. For more about those, please see the next two posts in this series.

The complete series


9 Responses to “Database management system choices – 4 categories of relational”

  1. Jim on February 15th, 2008 9:44 pm

    Links to parts 3, 4, and 5 are broken – they keep going back to part 2

  2. Curt Monash on February 15th, 2008 9:55 pm

    Ack. Thanks!!! I shall fix promptly.

    Anyhow, they’re the top five posts in the blog.


  3. Lukas on February 18th, 2008 7:51 am

    Interestingly several of the RDBMS listed in the speciality data category are derived from PostgreSQL:

  4. Curt Monash on February 18th, 2008 1:49 pm


    If you mean the specialty data warehousing guys, you’re absolutely right. At a minimum, Netezza, Vertica, ParAccel, and Greenplum started from PostegreSQL. The two main exceptions I can think of are DATAllegro, which tried the same course but switched Ingres, and Infobright, which started from MySQL.

    Also — EnterpriseDB, on the mid-range generalist/OLTP side, is of course closely based on PostgreSQL.


  5. Bence on February 24th, 2008 3:07 pm

    Vertica is a bit confusing. Someone from the company says it’s not PostgreSQL-based here:

  6. Curt Monash on February 24th, 2008 7:04 pm


    I think Vertica is one of those systems that gets its parser, BI-tool connectivity, etc. in large part from PostgreSQL, but completely replaced the PostgreSQL back-end.

    But I’ll ping the company and ask them to comment directly.


  7. Curt Monash on February 25th, 2008 4:35 pm

    OK. I checked with Vertica. They are “PostgreSQL-compatible” without using any PostgreSQL code.

    Exactly how compatible they are I don’t know. Clearly they do not, for example, support abstract datatypes, and I doubt they support PostgreSQL’s range of stored procedure languages either.


  8. Is H-Store the future of database management systems? — Too much information on March 4th, 2008 11:38 am

    […] 2007 but have returned to the agenda in recent weeks thanks to an online discussion between Curt Monash and […]

  9. Database management system choices — overview | DBMS2 -- DataBase Management System Services on June 26th, 2008 3:48 am

    […] Part 2: Database management system choices – 4 categories of relational […]

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