August 20, 2008

The Explosion in DBMS Choice

If there’s one central theme to DBMS2, it’s that modern DBMS alternatives should in many cases be used instead of the traditional market leaders. So it was only a matter of time before somebody sponsored a white paper on that subject. The paper, sponsored by EnterpriseDB, is now posted along with my other recent white papers. Its conclusion — summarizing what kinds of database management system you should use in which circumstances — is reproduced below.

Many new applications are built on existing databases, adding new features to already-operating systems. But others are built in connection with truly new databases. And in the latter cases, it’s rare that a market-leading product is the best choice. Mid-range DBMS (for OLTP) or specialty data warehousing systems (for analytics) are usually just as capable, and much more cost-effective. Exceptions arise mainly in three kinds of cases:

Otherwise, the less costly products are typically the wiser choice.

In the analytics area, appliances and other specialty data warehousing products offer huge price/performance advantages over general-purpose systems. What’s more, their superior performance allows them to get by with much simpler indexing structures, greatly reducing administrative burdens. If you have a data warehouse — or just a collection of data marts – running on Oracle or Sybase Adaptive Server or Microsoft SQL Server, it’s likely you could do yourself a huge favor by moving it to a specialty system.

If you’re an ISV, selling copies of the same software to many different customers, you should not be locked into expensive market-leading DBMS. Whatever the remaining deficiencies of mid-range systems, at least one of them will surely be good enough to support your software with an acceptably low level of one-time porting effort. (In many cases, EnterpriseDB’s Postgres Plus Advanced Server will have the edge, due to its Oracle compatibility as well as its generally rich feature set.) What’s more, besides saving license and maintenance fees, a mid-range DBMS may be easier for your customers to operate than a complex market leader is.

The one area where it may be premature to port away from market-leading DBMS is in-house OLTP applications. The first rule for OTLP apps is that they Must Not Break And so if they’re not broken, it is often advisable to be cautious about fixing them. In some cases prompt porting is a good idea anyway, but often there will be lower-hanging fruit elsewhere in the enterprise.

As you may imagine, this paper contains only a small fraction of our analysis of DBMS alternatives. Indeed, that’s the main topic of our blog DBMS2. Specific recommended links include:


7 Responses to “The Explosion in DBMS Choice”

  1. Announcements, announcements, announcements! | The Monash Report on August 20th, 2008 5:43 am

    […] for a cost-conscious world. I’ve blogged two excerpts, namely the introduction and conclusion. I urge you strongly to read it, whether in whole or just in part. Connoisseurs of our blog design […]

  2. Sanjay on August 20th, 2008 1:58 pm

    I was trying to read the comments and when I clicked the comments link here is the message I got in big bold letters.

    “Error establishing a database connection”

    I thought that was rather funny.

  3. Curt Monash on August 24th, 2008 10:16 pm


    Shared web hosting can be an adventure. 🙂 is sort of related …



  4. Daniel Weinreb on September 1st, 2008 10:51 pm

    For super-high-end OLTP apps, I think what you are saying is that if you already have one that works, you should be hesitant to change it. That’s good advice, but what if you’re building a new system and need a super-high-end OLTP system? And you want it to scale, and you don’t want to pay through the nose, and you don’t want it to be incredibly difficult to tune? I’m going to be keeping my eyes out for answers to this question.

  5. Infology.Ru » Blog Archive » Даешь свободу выбора СУБД! on November 11th, 2008 2:16 am

    […] Автор: Curt Monash Дата публикации оригинала: 2008-08-20 Перевод: Олег Кузьменко Источник: Блог Курта Монаша […]

  6. Sofia T on January 12th, 2009 3:47 pm

    I totally totally agree on that! You couldnt have said it with a better way..

  7. » Blog Archive » The Social Networking Advantage on January 21st, 2011 3:16 pm

    […] leading analyst and author of “The Explosion in DBMS Choice,” my company’s latest sponsored white paper – pointed me to an online discussion he did yesterday over at NetworkWorld in which he gives […]

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