How times have changed for PostgreSQL | Opensource.com

How times have changed for PostgreSQL

Posted 11 Mar 2014 by 

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When I started teaching PostgreSQL education courses in 2001, PostgreSQL was the ugly one in the data center. Many of the people who were learning how to work with it were doing so grudgingly because of some specific requirement. They had inherited a PostgreSQL database, for example. As a result, many of them tried to learn just enough to do what they needed to do. The other population of students were serious technologists, die-hard open source devotees who wanted to use only open source solutions and were learning PostgreSQL because they needed a relational database for their operations.

But today, PostgreSQL is undergoing a renaissance of sorts as recent advances in features and capabilities have propelled the database forward with enterprises and small businesses alike worldwide. The professionals enrolling in training courses today come from a much broader technical background and the level of enthusiasm is much higher. Knowing how to work with PostgreSQL has become recognized as a valuable career path for individuals. I see experienced enterprise software professionals who are versed in operating systems and Windows, for example, taking the training to advance their careers. I also see whole departments within a company signing up because more enterprises are investing in PostgreSQL.

In classes about PostgreSQL, it helps to combine veterans with newly minted database administrators. Students from a mix of backgrounds provide a more interactive and enriching experience because of the questions they pose. People with operational experience help beginners by providing insight into why someone would need to know or work with some part of the technology. A beginner meanwhile can often pose questions that an experienced database professional never considered and they end up learning from the discussion.

TIP: I tailor my presentations to the students enrolled in that particular course. In the beginning, I ask about their goals and their backgrounds so that going in, I know if I have a large group of beginners or a greater number of professionals with a background in DB2 or Oracle. In presenting the content, I can highlight material that appeals to particular audiences.

But what longtime veterans find is a very different environment in PostgreSQL. Different in a good way. There is a philosophical emphasis in PostgreSQL that is not present in commercial solutions. It’s a database designed by engineers for engineers. Commercial products seek to package and productize features. But with PostgreSQL, there is a modular framework and all the features work with every other feature. There are very few edge cases. So at first, for a database professional, working with PostgreSQL is a very different experience. But once professionals understand the design, they find it’s very intuitive and they’re hooked.

It reminds me of when my son suggested I try Ubuntu Linux. I had to buy a Windows laptop when I was working on the Windows port for PostgreSQL. I downloaded Ubuntu and started using it. I had been working with it for about a month when I had to go back into Windows for a project. I was shocked at how many things I suddenly could not do, things I had begun to take for granted.

PostgreSQL is like that.

 

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15 Comments

sk43999

I never thought of PostgreSQL as being "ugly". I chose for a "mission critical" application back in 1999 after evaluating several options and deciding it was the best. It "just worked" for nearly a decade. "Ugly" is how I would decribe most of the other options, and it was a factor in not using them.

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Bruce Momjian

In those early years, we just didn't get the _love_ we do now. I don't think anyone who used Postgres thought it was ugly, but the perception of people who didn't use it was that it just wasn't hip, or fast, or as good as the "big boy" databases. That certainly has changed for our benefit.

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Bo Victor Thomsen

One of the many selling points of PostgreSQL is ease of installation and use:

* Download: around 50 - 60 MBytes
* Installation: A few relevant questions about database user and port number (with sane defaults).

And presto: You have a working database environment including administrative tools.

Another selling point in my area of expertise: PostgreSQL have - IMHO - the best support for spatial data of _all_ the major databases: PostGIS.

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Ernesto Lozano

Postgresql is a SGBD Open Source for The Worldwide Enterprise and is Postgresql is a database of data today for the Corporate Business World has a staff of professionals around the world supporting their development and attention to End Customers
As well as facing the Big Data and Cloud Compunting the future today

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Glen

I've tried most of the open source databases at one time or another and I have to say that PostgreSQL is my favorite by far. As pointed out in the article, it may not have all the bells and whistles configurable via a gui, but there is basically nothing it can't do. It's just a rock solid database ready to handle most anything you can throw at it. To top it off, EnterpriseDB offers training at a fairly reasonable cost and the two courses I took were great.

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Jack

Postgresql is a SGBD Open Source for The Worldwide Enterprise and is Postgresql is a database of data today for the Corporate Business World has a staff of professionals around the world supporting their development and attention to End Customers
As well as facing the Big Data and Cloud Compunting the future today IMSC Rapid Mailer Review .

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Martin

I have a PostgreSQL DBA for around 4-5 years now, having previously been an Oracle DBA, and I can honestly say I would much rather work with Postgres than any other RDBMS.

I haven't really noticed a huge uptake in Postgres usage in "big business" here in the UK, but hopefully it's something that is on the cards in the near future!

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James M Doherty

I have been using postgresSQL in the financial area for over 9 years. The speed with witch you can implement changes and the design philosophy for any calculations is to implement them in pgSQL and that way all clients no matter the platform get the same answer. If it is wrong, it can be quickly changed for all with little or no impact on any. We no have over 300 banks on the system and growing.

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Glen

My first larger scale implementation to Postgres from another database system was a huge success. By taking advantage of using stored procedures, I was able to simplify the client side .Net code and increase performance exponentially. And as you said, with much of the business logic in the database, corrections/enhancements are all in one place which makes for easy maintenance. This particular application was able to easily support 300 business users (20-30 concurrently) using a very meager Core2 Duo with 2Gig of RAM without breaking a sweat.

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OSMomjian
Open Enthusiast

James - we would welcome the opportunity to speak with you about your experience with PostgreSQL. Will you contact our communications person at renee.deger@enterprisedb.com so she can follow up?

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Unidentified

PgAdmin is the shitties tool on this planet. That't the fucking choke point for wider postgres adpotion

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James M Doherty

The fact that you are unidentified speaks volumes about your limited knowledge of the proper use of adjectives in a public forum. I can only venture to guess that your knowledge of pgAdmin more that likely matches your understanding of proper decorum.

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Glen

James,
I completely agree with you on this one. No professional would make a post like this on an open forum, even if it were their true feelings. I myself use PgAdmin regularly and have no issues with it.

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garyclarke27
Newbie

Postgres keeps on amazing me - I switched from sql server 3 years ago. At the time, I was blow away - by so much capability not in ms sql server, such as - surprisingly powerful native sql functions, domains , exclusion constraints, windows functions with aggregates plus enterprise features which cost a fortune with ms completely free. Also Postgres now seems to be accelerating it's rate of improvement, which is very exciting.
Re pgadmin comment , no need to be abusive, but I have to agree to some extent, functionality is okish, but pgadmin is so ugly, therefore does unfortunately tarnish users impression of the wonderful db underneath. A nice looking gui client for pc / mac or a rich web client - ideally with an easy to install pre- configured integrated http server for table/view browsing + function calling - would be extremely welcome. Also please rename - postgres is much neater than awkward postgresql - i can think of no good reason to keep. Anyway much thanks and very well done to all involved.

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Paul Johnson

I have been using Teradata since the late 1980's.

My introduction to Postgres came via Netezza about 10 years ago.

Since then I've worked with other Postgres-derived MPP offerings such as Dataupia and Greenplum.

Postgres deserves far more credit than it receives.

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Bruce Momjian co-founded in 1996 the PostgreSQL community Global Development Group, the organization of volunteers that steers the development and release of the PostgreSQL open source database. Bruce played a key role in organizing like-minded database professionals to shepherd PostgreSQL from an abandoned academic project into a commercially viable, now enterprise-class relational database. He dedicates the bulk of his time organizing, educating and evangelizing within the open source

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