EnterpriseDB upgrade aimed at Oracle

EnterpriseDB is releasing a software update next month, hoping to lure Oracle customers.

EnterpriseDB is releasing an upgrade to its database software next month, hoping to lure customers away from Oracle with the promise of lower license fees and compatibility with applications written for Oracle's database.

EnterpriseDB's Advanced Server database is based on the open-source PostgreSQL database, which it sells with added tools and features for enterprise customers.

Version 8.2, which was released for testing Monday and is due for final release next month, includes compatibility with Oracle's OCI (Oracle Call Interface), a proprietary API (application programming interface) used by Oracle's database.

The addition of OCI means more applications written for Oracle will run with few or no changes on Advanced Server 8.2, including packaged software from vendors such as SAP AG and Oracle's PeopleSoft division, said Derek Rodner, EnterpriseDB's director of product strategy.

"Essentially, any application that runs on Oracle today is a candidate for migration to EnterpriseDB," he said.

In contrast, the current version of EnterpriseDB allows easy migration only for applications that use standard database interfaces, such ODBC and JDBC, he said.

The new product could allow EnterpriseDB could steal some business from cost-conscious Oracle customers that are open to products based on open-source software, said Raven Zachary, a research director at The 451 Group.

"If you look at the size of Oracle, even if they get only a small fraction of their customers it's still a lot of money," he said.

Companies are unlikely to switch wholesale but may test the waters by substituting a few Oracle servers, said Jay Lyman, another 451 Group analyst.

Noel Yuhanna, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc., commented via e-mail: "EnterpriseDB is built on top of PostgreSQL which is a proven enterprise DBMS for decades, therefore has reliability and robustness, besides offers good overall performance and scalability.

"We find that all customers that are looking to save money on database management, should look at EnterpriseDB, along with other open source databases such as MySQL and Ingres," he said.

EnterpriseDB faces challenges too, however. It is still relatively small and signed its 100th customer only recently, admits Andy Astor, its president and CEO. Nor is it profitable yet, although it has exceeded all of its customer and revenue targets, Astor said.

Its small size could make some large enterprises wary. "They're still somewhat at the stage of proving themselves," Lyman said.

Still, EnterpriseDB has signed a few prominent customers, including IP (Internet Protocol) telephony provider Vonage, and Sony Online Entertainment, which said last year it was using Advanced Server to help run its online gaming service.

Oracle's acquisitions of applications vendors could work in EnterpriseDB's favor, Lyman said, because customers may want to avoid being locked into all-Oracle software. "On the other hand, some customers might prefer to have a single vendor, so it could work both ways," he said.

Advanced Server 8.2 also adds some compatibility with databases from Microsoft, MySQL AB and Sybase, although not to the extent that it offers for Oracle. Version 8.2 can browse those databases and migrate the data and schema to EnterpriseDB, but it won't support the same data types.

The company isn't targeting full compatibility with other databases, which would require significant work, Astor said. It chose to focus on Oracle because of its market size and because EnterpriseDB's engineers have expertise in Oracle software.

The upgrade also includes around 300 other updates, Rodner said, including a 20 percent boost in performance and better debugging tools, including DTrace. Some of the improvements comes from the product being based on a new version of PostgreSQL, version 8.2.

Monday's release candidate is likely to have the final feature set and is suitable for testing, he said. For production use customers are advised to await the commercial release next month.

Pricing for version 8.2 will remain unchanged; the software is priced at US$5,000 per processor for a premium support plan, or US$1,500 for basic support, according to EnterpriseDB's Web site.

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