New PostgreSQL release ups enterprise ante

Open source database ready to take on the big guns

PostgreSQL may not be the most popular open source database, but with version 8.2 arriving today its developers are claiming a host of new features aimed squarely at increasing enterprise adoption.

Version 8.2 is the 14th public PostgreSQL release which adds feature and performance enhancements requested by business users, according to the development team, which is bullish about accelerating more migrations to the database.

Core PostgreSQL team member Bruce Momjian said the release touches "almost every command and database facility, making it easier for new [users] to fully use all [the] advanced features".

While not as popular as open source rival MySQL, PostgreSQL is now well-backed by large IT vendors, including Fujitsu, Sun Microsystems, and Unisys.

Sydney-based major contributor to PostgreSQL Gavin Sherry said version 8.2 greatly improves performance for heavy workloads as a lot of interesting work was done rewriting low-level locking code which really helps on larger multi-CPU systems.

"With functionality like online index builds, users with larger systems can build indexes with no effect on concurrent queries," Sherry said. "This will really benefit people looking at PostgreSQL for very heavily utilized systems."

Version 8.2 claims to improve performance by around 20 percent for high-end online transaction processing.

This release also introduces second-generation refinements to functionality released in prior versions like point-in-time recovery, which can now be used to more simply create a standby failover database.

This release also saw continued interest from IT vendors, with Unisys assisting in locating performance anomalies and Sun integrating the DTrace utility allowing Solaris users to probe into PostgreSQL and watch for events which may be affecting performance.

Sherry said the release is very much aimed toward enterprise users, and with each new release the team continues to close the gap on the functionality of the commercial databases.

"Importantly, we still remain free and open," he said. "There are now a very small number of commercial database users who could not move to PostgreSQL and be completely satisfied from day one."

Another IT vendor supporting PostgreSQL development is Greenplum, which has modified parts of PostgreSQL to allow it to run concurrently across hundreds of commodity PCs in a grid-like manner.

The release is also boasting advanced database features being offered in PostgreSQL "before any other major database" like Generalized Inverted Indexes to support a more scalable and programmable way of indexing semi-structured and full-text data.

Sherry said there are a few ways in which PostgreSQL eases migrations from other databases, including "excellent" SQL standard support, support for standardized database interfaces like ODBC, JDBC and ADO.NET, and a "very interesting" mechanism called dbi-link which allows PostgreSQL users to query a range of external databases from Oracle to MySQL.

"This greatly assists those moving to PostgreSQL because they can quickly move data from their production database into PostgreSQL and get a test system up and running with which they can verify if [it] is a suitable solution," he said.

Other enhancements include improvements to the pgAdmin III GUI management tool and the Windows version, which can now take advantage of a lot of built-in Windows debugging functionality.

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