Oracle to PostgreSQL? 6 Reasons to Make Your Open Source Migration

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Kirk Roybal is a PostgreSQL Database Reliability Engineer at Instaclustr, which provides a managed service platform and support for open source data-layer technologies. He has been an active member of the PostgreSQL community since 1998. Kirk has worked with Postgres in technical data roles at 2ndQuadrant, TripAdvisor, and LinkedIn, among others. He has provided solutions using the open source database for reporting, business intelligence, data warehousing, applications, and development support.

Now with nearly three-decades of maturity, the post-object relational database system PostgreSQL is particularly emblematic of an enterprise-wide trend: proven open source data technologies – in their pure open source versions – are increasingly replacing expensive and inflexible proprietary solutions.

Postgres offers some especially enticing advantages for enterprises looking to trim (if not downright slash) costs without impacting database performance. Here’s a half-dozen reasons enterprises should consider the fully open source version of Postgres as a more-than-capable Oracle replacement.

1) Starting is easy

Postgres is invitingly straightforward to get going with. Developers can leverage particularly excellent official documentation, as well as a wealth of information publicly available through forums and other platforms where the Postgres developer community congregates. Postgres requires all submitted patches to include documentation adhering to high community standards, and uses that material to create the official documentation.

Setting up a Postgres database is so simple that the incumbent database practices you’re used to with Oracle will likely change – quickly. Wherever more instances can provide value, there’s now no need to hold back. For example, you might find yourself implementing sandboxes anywhere they can help throughout design and development. You might build sandboxes for design integration before QA – and for QA itself. You can also install multiple PostgreSQL deployments to test features. The ease of PostgreSQL deployments doesn’t just make it simple to use, it also invites you to explore more possibilities.

2) The open source licensing and community are *exceptionally* open

In a world where not every open source license is as open as you’d like, the Postgres license doesn’t disappoint. Similar to the BSD license, Postgres allows enterprise users to do just about anything, so long as submissions are properly attributed. Every feature and improvement to Postgres is openly available to all with no licensing costs. The active community is such that nearly every major contributor to the project is still present and available. Have a question about a particular feature? There’s a good chance you can discuss it with the actual developer.

3) It’s true open source

Postgres delivers the full flexibility and portability necessary to distinguish it as a genuine open source technology. The PostgreSQL Global Development Group that leads the project is made up of appointed community members from a range of backgrounds, each committed to maintaining Postgres’ pervasive openness. For developers migrating from Oracle or another proprietary solution, this means gaining welcome freedom from license fees and vendor lock-in. It’s also simple to tap vendor support for Postgres, or freely switch to a new support provider whenever beneficial.

4) It’s similar to Oracle in the ways that you want it to be

For enterprises accustomed to Oracle, Postgres isn’t unfamiliar territory in what it delivers your organization. The indexes, functions, structure, and operations will be instantly recognizable. Both Oracle and Postgres leverage the same multi-version concurrency control in their data storage strategies, making the behavior of disk management and transactions predictable across each. And, if you’d like Postgres processes to feel even more like Oracle…well, available extensions can do just that.

5) It’s extensible

Postgres is fully extensible – so much so that there are two ways to go about it. First, developers can create and use independent packages, called “extensions,” with no need to modify Postgres itself. The PostgreSQL Extension Network can help you get started.

Second, developers are encouraged to extend Postgres through direct contributions to the project. Anyone with a compelling product addition in mind should join the pgsql-hackers mailing list on and bring their idea to the PostgreSQL Global Development Group.

6) The power of PostGIS

The extensibility of Postgres has led to PostGIS, which enables spatial and geographic objects for more powerful queries. Group two or more floats into a custom data type, representing a point. Add points to create a line, polyline, polygon, and then a polygon with three dimensions. Next add custom functions to control the specific shape of that geographic information system (GIS). With that GIS constructed, SQL can easily accomplish remarkably impressive queries. This opportunity has the PostGIS community rapidly expanding, now equaling or surpassing the size of the Postgres community itself.

Making the migration

Given the capabilities, versatility, and cost advantages that pure open source Postgres has to offer, Oracle users now weighing their options would be wise to give the enterprise-proven database project a close look to see if it aligns with their requirements.

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