White Ties And Red Hats At EnterpriseDB
"Is it here to stay?" has to be one of the most common questions enterprise users ask when considering Open Source options for their business needs. It's a legitimate concern with any product, Open Source or not — who wants to deploy a mission-critical service one day and be told it's no longer in development the next? In a time when the corporate side of Open Source is a bit up and down, spreading strategic support around is itself mission critical.
Open Source projects, and the companies that fund them, have to back each other up. That isn't to suggest all projects get along: that's just not going to happen. Nothing lives in a bubble, however, and cooperation between related projects is one of the keys to moving forward — we can't do what we want until they do that, and they can't do what they want until we do something else. The same principle applies on the corporate level: if Y is essential to our X, it's in our best interests to see that Y doesn't go bye-bye. (Or buy-buy, as the case often is.)
With rumors circling like tornadoes in Texas about the future of the database world's Open Source wing, it would seem like the time is at hand for Open Source's commercial forces to take a serious look at backing up their databases — the ones they rely on being available to work with whatever it is they're selling. That's just exactly what Red Hat — unquestionably a shining example of corporate Open Source — is up to.
EnterpriseDB, billed as "The Enterprise Postgres Company," has been combining PostgreSQL and commercial interests for the past five years, and in that time has set itself up as an important player when it comes to the corporate side of Open Source databases. Its Postgres Plus line of database offerings combine the commercial extras one expects from corporate Open Source with the powerful PostgreSQL database management system. EnterpriseDB claims "hundreds of customers worldwide, including Sony, FTD, hi5 Networks, Vonage, McKesson, TD Ameritrade and Backcountry.com" and an impressive list of "strategic partners" that includes "Valhalla Partners, Charles River Ventures, Fidelity Ventures, IBM, NTT and Sony."
That list has a new name on it as of today, as the company announced this morning that Red Hat has bought in to the company, a "strategic investment" as it were, "aimed at increasing enterprise adoption of open source IT infrastructure." By most accounts, the move is more than just a buy-in — it's a moved aimed at ensuring that, regardless of what happens with other Open Source database systems, enterprise-class PostgreSQL will remain a part of the corporate landscape.
As is generally the case, numbers weren't immediately available — though they'll eventually pop up, thanks to SEC filing requirements — but Red Hat must be sitting on a fairly large slice of the pie, considering the emphasis being placed on the move's "strategic" nature. One doesn't need a Nobel prize in economics to know that the combination of Sun's acquisition of MySQL AB in 2008 and Oracle's purchase of Sun, approved by federal regulators in August, has the database world worried. Given that, moves like this one — and perhaps spreading to other fields as well — may become the order of the day.
Regardless of how things wash out in the corporate world, we all know Open Source will go on. It's heartening, however, to see the big players in enterprise Open Source moving to make sure that openness remains available for commercial application as well.
Justin Ryan is a Contributing Editor for Linux Journal.