EnterpriseDB’s Big Boost From IBM Only Part of the Story

EnterpriseDB has had a steady build as an Oracle-compatible alternative DBMS. IT Market Strategy had a chance to catch up with Andy Astor, co-founder and EVP of business development, in the midst of the frenzy around the launch of IBM’s DB2 version 9.7 (discussed here). Andy was gracious enough to make himself available late (very late) in the evening to clarify a few questions about the IBM licensing and use of EnterpriseDB’s technology, and cleared up a few points of confusion we had.

Since its founding in 2004, EnterpriseDB has taken its version of Postgres, branded as Postgres Plus, into an intriguing place. It is positioned as “Oracle compatible”, offering its customers a technology choice that avoids lock-in and the substantial expense associated with a traditional software license. Postgres Plus can be deployed in Linux, Solaris and Windows environments, and supports connections from the most widely used languages.

The ramp has been fairly steady; early support from the Linux community, and the company’s hiring of many of the Postgres team, gave it early credibility. By 2006, it had already begun effective partnering, with heavyweights like Sun weighing in, unveiled JBOSS support, added heavy hitters to its board of directors, and sustained a steady cadence of product releases. In 2008, after strong growth and international expansion in 2007, the firm raised $10M in funding to fuel further growth – and among the investors, close on the heels of Sun’s acquisition, was IBM, in a relatively unusual step. See the 451 Group’s discussion at the time here.

Compatibility plays are often seen as short-sighted and challenging: even if it works well, how can users be assured that products designed to be compatible with others will remain so as the target product adds features in new releases? Time has shown that this issue is not nearly as significant as expected. The persistence of “old versions” and applications that run on them is well-documented. In fact, migration to a new version of a commercial DBMS might cost more than simply moving an application that already does what it needs to do onto a low-cost compatible platform. Think of it as legacy conservation, as opposed to legacy migration. It’s an intriguing value proposition in today’s economic climate.

Mind you, Postgres Plus is not just a compatibility play; the firm touts wins at Autozone and others as open source DBMS successes, as well as others like Vonage and the FAA based on Oracle compatibility. The licensing deal with IBM for DB2 9.7’s foray into Oracle compatibility no doubt provides another useful piece of funding -terms were undisclosed, but one imagines they must be rather substantial. With the growing adoption of open source, and Oracle’s pending acquisition of MySQL, EnterpriseDB is well positioned to exploit the changes in the software industry in the years ahead.  IT Market Strategy expects to see other partners come on board. expanding OEM deals, and continued innovation in the creation of alternative software stacks, in Postgres Plus’ future.

About Merv Adrian
Gartner Research VP, technology analyst and consultant, 30 years of industry experience, covering software mostly, hardware sometimes.

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