Category Archives: Business

Why document databases are old news…


We’re going to store data the way it’s stored naturally in the brain.

This is a phrase being heard more often today. This blog post is inspired by a short rant by Babak Tourani (@2ndhalf_oracle) and myself had on Twitter today.

How cool is that!!

This phrase is used by companies like MongoDB or Graph Database vendors to explain why they choose to store information / data in an unstructured format. It is new, it is cool, hip and happening. Al the new compute power and storage techniques enable doing this.
How cool is that!!
Well, it is… for the specific use-cases that can benefit from such techniques. Thinking of analytical challenges, where individual bits of information basically have no meaning. If you are analyzing a big bunch of captured data, which is coming from a single source like a machine, or a click-stream or social media, for instance, one single record basically has no meaning. If that is the case, and it is really not very interesting if you have and retain all individual bits of information, but you are interested in “the bigger picture”, these solutions can really help you!

How cool is it, actually?

If it comes to the other situations where you want to store and process information… where you do care about the individual records (I mean, who wants to repopulate their shopping cart on a web-shop 3 times before all the items stick in the cart) there are some historical things that you should be aware of.
Back in the day when computers were invented, all information on computers was stored “the way it’s stored naturally in the brain”.
Back in the day when computers were invented, all we had were documents to store information.
This new cool hip and happening tech is, if anything, not new at all…
Sure, things changed over the last 30 years and with all the new compute power and storage techniques, the frayed ends of data processing have significantly improved. This makes the executing of data analysis, as described above, actually so much better!! Really, we can do things to data, using these cool new things, that we never dreamt possible, 30 years ago.
But these things remain the “frayed ends of data processing”.
If you do have requirements like filling your shopping cart once, and it works all the way through check-out…
If you do have requirements where some kind of “transaction” is required (like buying something, like your bank account, like two actions that are dependent of each other)…
You need transactions…
I know, “transaction” is boring, old-fashioned and a seemingly surpassed entity…
But, I promise you, you will want those things, if you actually have to process something in your application in a way that makes real-world sense.

This was solved ages ago

For that, indeed 30 years ago (which is such a long time, most of the cool young dudes and dudetes developing applications today were not even born), the relational database theory was invented to solve the inherent issues that document based databases bring if you want to introduce these transactions to your application.
Document databases brought these issues back in the day… They bring these issues today!!!
Please believe me, they bring these issues today! This is the reason – contrary to the messages by non-relational database vendors – applications developers find that they need to add actual transactional capabilities to their applications, to either work in real life of bring any kind of scalability to them.
Imagine building an application and actually being successful with it! Isn’t that the dream of every application project? How boring is it then, to find that you are unable to meet demands? Not because you are understaffed or because you lack compute-resources? But simply because your application, based on these data storage methodologies, cannot keep up? Document database is data storage, not data processing.
For that, you would need the likes of PostgreSQL. Postgres is (also) free, it is Open Source… it is even Community Open Source, how cool is that? No annoying vendor telling fantasy stories about what Postgres can do, unlike MongoDB for instance.

So…

Coming back to the opening phrase, We’re going to store data the way it’s stored naturally in the brain.
It is kind of dumb to use a computer to store data like it would be stored in the brain. The human brain is not designed to process YUGE amounts of data, simply because the structure is not designed to accommodate that. Period.
To process large amounts of data, you need structures, either when you store the data or when at the moment you want to start doing stuff with it. Structuring data when you store it, is by far the cheapest method. Technologies like JSON data storage add sufficient flexibility to that, and engines like Postgres have no trouble what so ever processing such data.
Finally, the programs these vendors use to “store data the way it’s stored naturally in the brain” are written in computer-code, also not “naturally like the brain”. Would we need to revert to medieval clerks to start recording the data in these documents? No, I guess not.
Be smart,
Be modern,
Be hip-and happening,
Be efficient and scalable,
Use relational database techniques…


Postgres in the Enterprise, Real World Reasons for adoption

The lead-in

Friend and colleague Bruce Momjian already shared in his presentation “Will Postgres live forever?” (https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8793191803818201345) an overview of reasons why companies adopt open source software (OSS) in general. This overview was based on a survey done by Black Duck Software in 2016 (https://www.slideshare.net/mobile/blackducksoftware/2016-future-of-open-source-survey-results). The survey ranks databases on the second place of technologies that companies are moving towards OSS in.

In this series of short blogpost I want to highlight some of the practical cases of Postgres adoption in the Enterprise from our day-to-day practice, and see which of the general factors of OSS adoption we see with Postgres .

IBM DB2 to Postgres

The first of the cases deals with a semi-government organization that currently has an application landscape based on IBM DB2, Microsoft SQL-Server and Oracle. Our primary engagement is to support their move of their application landscape from IBM DB2 to Postgres.

The initial driving force behind this decision was the staggering renewal-cost this organization was facing for their DB2 licenses. These licenses included IBM’s Deep Compression option (https://www.ibm.com/developerworks/data/library/techarticle/dm-1205db210compression/index.html). This option reduces disk-space by as much as 50%. More importantly it reduces database IOPS to meet the performance of the applications. Moving from DB2 on Z/OS to DB2 on Linux, the company faced a performance deficit which they initially resolved by using this Deep Compression option.

This option was also a grounds for worry. Obviously an expensive database option, that was known to bring real benefits to DB2 database performance, would outperform Postgres, right? Would we be able to come near DB2 database performance when running on Postgres?
Discussion with our own Postgres experts could not take away these concerns. We would have to test and validate.

The project had already kicked into gear when EnterpriseDB was engaged. Some of the software had already been migrated and converted to fit on EDB Postgres Advanced Server (EPAS). For much of the data and schema migration, the software by Spectral Core, named Full Convert (https://www.spectralcore.com/fullconvert/).

The outcome

Part of the extensive test-program of the migration project was performance testing, which also included a simulated full pressure practice test with load-generators.

The surprise was then also quite absolute, when the final results of the performance tests were released. EPAS was capable to keep up quite nicely with the original DB2-setup, and even improved performance in some specific tests.

Performance tests concluded, June 28 2018

Test Number Postgres Runtime
% of original DB2 runtime
Number 1 87.2 %
Number 2 101.0 %
Number 3 109.4 %
Number 4 79.3 %
Number 5 70.0 %
Number 6 109.5 %
Number 7 106.4 %

In analysis of this particular project, we can conclude that the reasons for this project to choose Postgres are:

  • Primarily #5, Cost reduction. Database running cost on an annual basis can be reduced in access of 80%
  • Secondly #2, Freedom from vendor lock-in. Postgres is a community open source solution having no single company controlling the solution.

More details

I am curious to learn what details you would want to read here in order to help you assess your specific situation! Let me know in the comments.

Swiss pgday 2018

The cool thing about zooming out… is that your world appears to get bigger.
Being personally now no longer bound to Oracle, having the opportunity to work with PostgreSQL, also gives the opportunity to go new places and explore new possibilities. One of the cooler things is: participating in Postgres conferences.

Conference vibe

Where Oracle conferences, although having some deep technical aspects, tend to lean towards the business aspects of technology, especially today with Cloud first / Cloud only… PostgreSQL conferences tend to lean towards engineering. What things are we – that same Postgres community – building in and around Postgres. What do we think about these developments and how can we improve them.
Postgres tends to have anywhere from 5 to 10 different directions in which the product is being developed. Lots of people check, test, improve, criticize and comment on all these developments.
A significant difference, somehow.
The atmosphere at PostgreSQL conferences, though is also simply super cool. New people to meet, new ways to incorporate.

Swiss pgday

I had the opportunity to join and participate in the Swiss pgday (find the program here) in the beautiful town of Rapperswil, at the university of applied science (HSR). Together with my friend and colleague, Postgres founding core team member, Mr. Bruce Momjian, I joined the event.
The Swiss Postgres community booked a nice result with a 30% higher number of participants. In two tracks, over 12 talks were delivered by local and international speakers on many aspects of Postgres, from a more business perspective on Postgres to the new things that come with Postgres 11, and can now be tested by anyone who wants to!

With all these shifting panels, with this second wave of Open Source rolling, that is now happening… More intricate systems, like relational database management systems, are now being offered and adopted.
It makes sense to zoom out as the opportunities increase so rapidly and in ways never foreseen.

I challenge and invite you all; come on board and ride this wave with us.

Why I picked Postgres over Oracle, part III

This is the final episode of this short series of blog posts on some of my drivers for moving to Postgres from Oracle.
Please do read Part I and Part II of the series if you have not done so. It discussed the topics “History”, “More recently”, “The switch to Postgres”, “Realization”, “Pricing”, “Support” and “Extensibility”.

In summary:

  • Part one focused on “why not Oracle anymore, so much”
  • Part two discussed on the comparison between PostgreSQL and Oracle
  • Part three talks some more on what Postgres then actually is

Community

One of the more important things to be really, really aware of is that Postgres is “not just open source“. Postgres is “community open source“.

Now, why would that be important, you might wonder.

We all know what open source stands for. There are many advantages to an open source system, and in our case, an open open source database.
A number of arguments are in this blog post series. If you take this one step further though, and realize that Postgres is a community open source project, what are  extra advantages?

A community open source project is not limited, in any way, to any one specific group of developers (let’s call them a company). For example, let’s look at MongoDB. This is an open source database, but it is developed by MongoDB inc.
It is, in essence, controlled by MongoDB.

Postgres is developed by the Postgres Developer Community coached by the Postgres Core Team.
This makes Postgres incredibly open, independent and it enables its developers to truly focus on actual business problems that need to be solved. There is no ulterior drive to satisfy commercial goals or meet any non-essential requirements.

Development

A very important discriminator, that only became this clearly and apparent to me, after I dove into Postgres some more, is the development…

The actual development of the database core-software is done by this community, we’ve just identified.

“Well, yes…” you might say, this is what open source stands for. But the impact of this extends well beyond support, as I mentioned in part 2 of this series. The ability to be part of where Postgres goes, to have actual influence on the development, is awesome, especially for a database platform in the current “world in flux”.
Postgres users don’t necessarily have to wait until “some company” decides to put something on the road-map or develop it at their discretion. These company-decisions will mostly be driven by the most viable commercial opportunity, not necessarily the most urgent technical need.

The development of Postgres is more focused on “getting it right”.
One nice example is the Postgres query optimizer. The Postgres community hates bugs. When bugs start to get discussed, it results in many emails within the community, which stand for a lot of reading!
Many bugs are fixed very quickly, so that this email storm stops!
For optimizer bugs therefore, turn-around times (from reporting to having a production-fix) can be as low as 72 hours, so even for mechanisms as complex as a query optimizer.

Invitation

I would like to invite all of you in the Oracle community to take a look at the Postgres query optimizer and share your concerns, worries, bugs or praise with the Postgres community.
If you want to, you can share this with us at the https://www.postgresql.org/list/pgsql-hackers/ email list. We are looking forward to your contributions!

Future

Oracle

I can only speak from what I see. What I see is that Oracle is becoming an on-line services company. I see them moving away from core technology like the database and accompanying functions. Oracle is more an more and moving to highly specialized applications aimed at very big companies.
Chat-bots, social media interactions, integrated services and more, delivered from a tightly integrated but also tightly locked set of Oracle owned and operated data-centers, or rather, the Oracle cloud.

Is this useful? Of course, there will be targeted customers of Oracle who will continue to find this all extremely useful, and it will be, to them.
It this for me? No, not really.

Postgresql

In the beginning, Linux was not something anyone wanted for anything serious. I mean, who wanted to run anything mission critical on anything else than Solaris, HP-UX, VMS, IBM? No-one…
And that was just a few years ago. Imagine!
Today in any old data-center, if you would eliminate the Linux based servers, you would not have much left.
This same thing is now also happening in, what I guess is the second wave of open source. More complex engines are being replaced by open source and the ever present relational database engine is one of those.

Why? Price, extensibility, flexibility, focus, you name it. We have seen it before and we will see it again.

EnterpriseDB

If you permit me just these few words.

I think EnterpriseDB is extremely important for PostgreSQL. We have been fighting on the forefront since the beginning, supporting PostgreSQL’s move to the Enterprise. EnterpriseDB has been and will continue to spend a large amount of our resources to PostgreSQL. We are a PostgreSQL support company. We just have been not very good at patting ourselves on the back…
As a company we are doing extremely well, simply because Postgres is rock solid in all facets and ready to take on the word, even the most daunting tasks – and beyond.
This will continue as Postgres will continue in this second wave of Open Source.

I thank you for your attention.
If you have addition questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Why I picked Postgres over Oracle, part II

Continuing this short series of blog posts on some of my drivers for moving to Postgres from Oracle.
Please do read Part I of the series if you have not done so. It discussed the topics “History”, “More recently” and “The switch to Postgres”.

Realization

In the last months, discussing Postgres with my Oracle peers, playing with the software and the tooling, I actually quite quickly realized Postgres is a lot cooler, at least to me. Not so much of the overly complicated technology, but rather built to be super KISS. The elegance of simplicity and it still gets the job done.
Postgres handles a lot the more complex workloads than many (outsiders) might think. Some pretty serious mission-critical workloads are handled by Postgres today. Well, basically, it has been doing this for many, many years. This obviously is very little known, because who would want to spend good money on marketing  for Open Source Software, right? You just spent your time building the stuff, let somebody else take care of that.
Well… we at EnterpriseDB do just those things, …too!

And, please, make no mistake, Postgres is everywhere, from your fridge and video camera, through TV set-top boxes up to major on-line banking software. Many other places you would not expect a database to (be able to) run. Postgres is installed in places that never get touched again. Because of the stability and the low to no-touch administrative character of Postgres, it is ideally suited for these specific implementations. Structured on some of the oldest design principles around Postgres, it doesn’t have to be easy to create the database engine, as long as it “just works” in the end.
Many years ago, an Oracle sales director also included such an overview in his pitch. All the places Oracle touches everybody’s lives, every day. This is no different for Postgres, it is just not pitched anywhere, by anyone, as much.

I have the fortunate opportunity to work closely together with (for instance) Bruce Momjian (PostgreSQL core team founding member and EnterpriseDB colleague). I also had the opportunity to learn from him some of the core principles on which Postgres was designed and built. This is fundamentally different from many other software projects I know and I feel it truly answers some of the core-requirements of database projects out there today! There is no real overview of these principles, so that’s on my to-do list.

Working with PostgreSQL

Pricing

Postgres is open source… it is true open source. It is even a true community open source project, but more about that later in the next installment.

Open source software is free to use, it does not cost nothing!

But, wait! Open source does not mean for free! How…, why…, what do you mean??

Well… you need support, right!?
The community can and will help you, answer questions, solve some of your problems. But they will not come in to install, configure and run Postgres for you. You will need to select and integrate your specific selection out of the wealth of tools. You basically have a whole bunch of additional tasks to complete to get your Postgres platform sorted out.
Companies like EnterpriseDB can help you mitigate these tasks. This allows you to focus on the things you actually want to achieve, using Postgres

In comparison to traditional database vendors, the overall price of your solution will absolutely significantly reduce when using Postgres as your open source database engine.

Support

A significant difference between Oracle (for instance) and Open Source support services is interchangeability.
In the end, Oracle support can only be given by Oracle. They are the only ones that have access to the software sources and can look up (and hopefully fix) issues. In the support of Postgres, or any true community open source product, different companies can provide support. If you don’t like the company you work with… you switch. This drives these companies to be really good at delivering support! How is that for an eye opener.

Extensibility

One of the superb advantages of Postgres is its native extensibility. I mean, think about it for a moment… having a relational database platform with the strength of Postgres, the strength of Oracle or Microsoft SQL Server for that matter. Postgres gives you more options to integrate a wealth of data sources, data types, custom operators and many more other extensions than you will ever need! The integration into Postgres is so solid, these extensions function like any other function in the core of Postgres.
And, rest assured, chances that you will ever be faced with having to built this yourself are extremely slim. There are 30 to 40 thousand developers working with larger and smaller pieces of code of Postgres. Chances are that if you find yourself challenged, somebody else faced and solved that challenge before you. That solution will then be available for you to take and use, solve your challenge and move on. That is also open source for you.

This capability is what makes Postgres ultimately suited to fit the central role in any polyglot environment, we see being built today.
Maximizing the amount of information from data available in multiple data silos in an organization. This is a challenge we see more and more often today. Integrating traditional  applications as ERP, CRM, with data-warehousing results, again combined with Big-data analysis and event-data-capture aggregates. This generates additional decision-driving information out of the combination of these silos. Postgres, by design, is ultimately suited for this. It saves you for migrating YUGE amounts of data from one store to another, just to make good use of it.
The open source Dogma “Horses for courses” eliminates double investments, large data migrations or transformations, it just enables you to combine and learn from what you already have.

End of part II

A link to part three of this blog post will be placed here shortly.

Why I picked Postgres over Oracle, part I

As with many stories, if you have something to tell, it quickly takes up a lot of space. Therefore this will be a series of blog posts on Postgres and a bit of Oracle. It will be a short series, though…

Let’s begin

History

 I have started with databases quite early on in my career. RMS by Datapoint… was it really a database? Well, at least sort of. It held data in a central storage, but it was a typical serial “database”. Interestingly enough, some of this stuff is maintained up to today (talk about longevity!)
After switching to a more novel system, we adopted DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation) VAX, VMS and Micro VAX systems! Arguably still the best operating system around… In any case, it brought us the ability to run, the only valid alternative for a database around, Oracle. With a shining Oracle version 6.2 soon to be replaced by version 7.3.4. Okay, truth be told, at that time I wasn’t really that deep into databases, so much of the significance was added later. My primary focus was on getting the job done, serving the business in making people better. Still working with SQL and analyzing data soon became one of my hobbies.
From administering databases, I did a broad range of things, but always looping back to or staying connected to software and software development using databases.
Really, is there any other way, I mean, building software without using some kind of database?
At a good point in time, we were developing software using the super-trendy client-server concept. It served us well at the time and fitted the dogma of those days. No problems whatsoever. We were running our application on “fairly big boxes” for our customers (eg. single or double core HP D 3000 servers) licensed through 1 or 2 Oracle Database Standard Edition One licenses, and the client software was free anyway…
Some rain must fall
The first disconnect I experienced with licensed software was that time we needed to deploy Oracle Reports Server.
After porting our application successfully to some kind of pre-APEX framework, we needed to continue our printing facilities as before. The conclusion was to use Oracle Reports Server, which we could call to fulfill the exact same functionality as the original client-server printing agent (rwrbe60.exe, I’ll never forget) did. There was only no way we could do this, other than buying licenses for (I though it was) Oracle BI Publisher, something each of our clients had to do. This made printing more expensive than the entire database-setup, almost even the biggest part of the entire TCO of our product, which makes no sense at all.

More recently

This disconnect was the first one. Moving forward I noticed and felt more and more of a disconnect between Oracle and, what I like to call, core technology. Call me what you will, I feel that if you want to bring a database to the market and want to stay on top of your game, your focus needs to be at least seriously fixed on that database.

Instead we saw ever more focus for “non-core” technology. Oracle Fusion, Oracle Applications (okay, Oracle Apps had been there always), and as time progressed, the dilution became ever greater. I grew more and more in the belief that Oracle didn’t want to be that Database Company anymore (which proved to be true in the), but it was tough for me to believe. Here I was, having spent most of my active career focused on this technology, and now it was derailing (as it felt to me).

We saw those final things, with the elimination of Oracle Standard Edition One, basically forcing an entire contingent of their customers either out (too expensive) or up (invest in Oracle Standard Edition Two, and deal with more cost for less functionality). What appeared to be a good thing, ended up leaving a bad taste in the mouth.
And, of course… the Oracle Cloud, I am not even going to discuss that in this blog post, sorry.

The switch to Postgres

For me the switch was in two stages. First, there was this situation that I was looking for something to do… I had completed my challenge and, through a good friend, ran into the kind people of EnterpriseDB. A company I only had little knowledge of doing stuff for PostgreSQL (or Postgres if you like, please, no Postgré or things alike please, find more about the project here), a database I had not so much more knowledge of. But, their challenge was very interesting! Grow and show Postgres and the good things it brings to the market.

Before I knew it, I was studying Postgres and all the things that Postgres brings. Which was easy enough in the end, as the internal workings and structures of Postgres and Oracle do not differ that much. I decided to do a presentation on the differences between Postgres and Oracle in Riga. I was kindly accepted by the committee even when I told them, my original submission had changed!
A very good experience, even today, but with an unaccepted consequence. -> The second part of the switch was Oracle’s decision to cut me out of the Oracle ACE program.

It does free me up, somehow, to help database users across Europe, re-evaluate their Oracle buy-in and lock-in. Look at smarter and (much) more (cost)-effective ways to handle their database workloads. This finalized “the switch”, so to speak.
Meanwhile more and more people are realizing that there actually are valid alternatives to the Oracle database. After the adoption of the Oracle database as the only serious solution back in the early 1990’s, the world has changed, also for serious database applications!

End of Part I

Please follow this link to the second part of this blog post.

Open Source? We have been here before… right!

Since over half a year I have made an adjustment in my course… nothing too dramatic, but still it has had some impact.

I have chosen the path of the more pure technique again. Not in a sense that I don’t manage anymore, though I don’t, but that’s more of a side effect
I have chosen the path of the more pure technique in a sense that the change from Closed Source software to Open Source software allows you to actually work with and solve things by creating solutions rather than trying to figure out how something, someone created for some issue, can reconfigured so it resembles a solution for your actual problem.

Okay… okay… this of course is exaggerated, but it serves to help think about the issue.

No one ever got fired for buying Oracle” is one of the phrases I have heard numerous times over the past period.
Well, no… but it’s also no free pass to –sorry for the phrase– waste money on technology you either never going to use.

Over 80% of the installed base uses less than
20% of the technology they are paying for!

I have followed a number of the brightest mind in the industry (our industry, the database industry) for many years investing vast amounts of time in reverse-engineering pieces of technology that have been built, in order to explain certain behavior.
Of course, very necessary, no argument there, but wouldn’t it be so much more cool if this overwhelming amount of brain-power could be used to actually create stuff??

Open Source in stead of Closed Source…
The answer, I think!

Sure, I am raised with vendor created solutions, that was the default MO when I got trained. VMS, MS-DOS, HP-UX… (are you _that_ old, yes, I am _that_ old) and a number of applications that did the work.
Well, those days are gone… operating systems in data centers have (nearly) all been replaced by Linux distribution installs. And I mean like, as good as all of them.

Sufficiently stable, cost effective and they get the job done.

Next wave?
Databases!

With the current explosive growth of Open Source databases, brace yourselves. Or rather, embrace!

All the exact same arguments that are there for Operating Systems apply. There is no difference, and you, the industry, chose! And you will choose this again. Simply because “it is good enough”, it is much more cost effective and it gets the job done.
The extensibility, the agility of Open Source database software gives you the ability to let your database, be it OLTP, OLAP, Big Data, Polyglot, or whatever we come up with, do what needs to be done.
The current leader of the Open Source relational database systems is PostgreSQL. A platform developed in over 30 years to become an absolutely stable data processing engine for a fraction of the costs of the Closed Source players in this market.

Conclusion:

  1. We have seen wave 1 of Open Source where we all choose to replace the operating system standard with Linux.
  2. We will now see wave 2 of Open Source where we will choose to replace the database management system standard with… PostgreSQL (or in specific cases one of the other, more specialized systems, depending on the need).
Hope this helps!

Hey JAVA-developer, why don’t you love your database

Why this post?

Partly, this blogpost is a result of a promise to Lukas Eder. Basically my vision adheres quite nicely to the “Thick Database” driven by Bryn Llewellyn and Toon Koppelaars who, understandibly, drive this from an Oracle perspective.
It –more than of course- also nicely fits EnterpriseDB or even vanilla PostgreSQL database landscapes.

There is apparently still so much confusion in the world on the how, why and what of good application development and architecture that I decided to chip in my bit. I think I have a bit of an idea on how this aught to work and I also think it is not a half bad idea, plus a couple of people whom I highly regard, seem to agree with it. So here goes…

Traditionally

Traditionally there is no big love between application developers and their persistence-store. I don’t really know why because I never found the opportunity to do a real inquiry, but I think I have a reasonable understanding.

Basically there is constantly the enormous pressure of delivering new features and functionality. So much even that the basic development work, the more “boring” and “time consuming” things -why pay now, if you can also pay later- get postponed. Things like peer-reviews, (integration) testing, technical design… Basically, more people means more features.
If even these things get too little attention, why would something like an overpriced library-box get more attention? Not to mention these DBA’s you need to pass to even get close(r) to this library-box…

Here are my four reasons why I think
it should deserve a chance!

1. Easier

Plain and simple. It is easier. If you take a structured query language like PL/(pg)SQL, it is basically easy. Founded on the programming language ADA, it is easy to understand and one can quite easily build a number of routines, procedures, packages, functions to let the database chop and glue data and just deliver the results for your application to consume.
It saves you the time of having to (re)write some of this more complex stuff in your application or perhaps even over a several applications.

2. Quicker

As said under the first point: build once, use many times. By creating mechanisms in the database, you get the opportunity to think about the separating data manipulation mechanisms from data representation mechanisms and where you want to put which specific function. Of course, this decision process takes a little extra time in the beginning, but will repay many times over as your projects grows and gains meaningful complexity (is there something like “meaningful complexity”, well, yes…).

Quicker also is in operational response times. Querying a stored procedure will bring agility to your application in a sense that this stored procedure will be much quicker in getting you the answer than if you do this in a distributed (middle-ware) environment. These stored procedures can be accessed through REST-endpoints, giving flexibility and the possibile desired disconnect between the database and the application layer.

3. Cheaper

Powerful, because you are and you remain close to the data. No data transportation overhead, no latency. These kinds of slimming down, mean less requirements to infrastructure and distributed capacities (either hardware or (virtual) “cloud infrastructure”. This slimming down frees up budget which can then be spend on the more meaningful bits and pieces of your application.

4. More consistent

Finally, I think this approach brings more consistency. As you do things near the data it lives on, near the processing power you depend on, you also get single access paths to specific bits of your data, to specific constructs that drive the value of the application you are building. Through this, it does not matter from where you call this service, REST-endpoint, stored procedure, or whatever you call it, you always get the same answer, driving a consistent decision process based on that application.

And if ever something changes, there is also just one place for you to ensure these new requirements are added. Voila, consistency throughout your application landscape, as all that depends on this data-set gets this uniquely updated information.

The magic of working together

There is a lot of misunderstanding between DBA’s and Developers. I have been in both roles at some point and I have seen this happen first hand. One of the things, though, in that force field, I have learned, is the power, the joy and, through this, the magic of working together.
In the end, we all have the same goal, which is furthering our business by being the best at what we do. This means, for a developer, meeting feature request, short development cycles, quick delivery and as much as possible, get it right in one go. For a DBA this means making sure the database stays consistent, performant and available. And, in extension of that, for operations it means that the final product must be easily and quickly deployable to enter into an uneventful and dependable life-cycle.

Bringing together these seemingly conflicting disciplines is fun! By investing a little time in exploring the other disciplines, you will find common drivers, in a sense that everyone want the same thing. By getting over nearly religious initial differences, you will find magic in the combination. You will reach your goals earlier with the bonus that your co-workers will also reach their goals earlier and have a better end result than you dreamt possible.

True JAVA-Champion

Coming from another world, I do not know the requirements for becoming a JAVA-Champion. I imagine it to be not too much different from other recognition programs out there… But…
If you create more features and functions and you are able to run your application with greater concurrency on (way) less platform-power. Thus increasing the RIO on your application, this makes you a true Champion of JAVA and your business!! If you are able to combine this with some magic in your cooperation’s…
Believe me, it is more fun in the end too!

Riga Dev Days 2017, new experiences in many ways.

Riga Dev Days 2017

General

It has been a while since my last blog-post.
One of the reasons is my shift from closed to open source software, databases more specifically. More on that in a later blog-post.

The reason for already mentioning this is this strange hybrid (what a popular word, these days) situation that I am in at the moment.
Thanks to the super enthusiastic, flexible and tenacious organization-team of the Riga Dev Days, I was able to participate.
Happily boarded the Air Baltic flight, I went on my way to Riga!!

Being new at the broader conference scene, I enjoyed being at a mixed source developer conference. Besides the usual suspects – some of which are my best friends – I got to meet many interesting new people.
One of the key phrases of the day is: “the more you learn, the more you realize you know nothing – John Snow…” and it’s true! You never stand to think about it, but the wealth of subjects is just tremendous and the combined knowledge at events like these is down right “Yuge, it’s awesome, tremendous!”

Day one

With a day like this, time flies. Between session (and during sessions) there are discussions, a bit of work and catching up to do.
Still I managed to catch a few sessions, like the one from Michael Hüttermann who made a clear and well rounded case regarding CI/CD in a DevOps world. A nice insight into the effort that goes into what’s behind the proverbial “push of a button”.
Another example was that by Marcos Placona about the many (and very basic) things that you have to keep in mind wen building apps. There is no silver bullet and the best you can achieve is to discourage the hacker so much, they move on. Much like securing your house, do to speak.

The day ended in the medieval basements of Riga, where we had some really good medieval food. Life is good…, well…, it has it’s moments!

Day two

The keynote address by Edson Yanaga, which kicked off day two of the Riga Dev Days, was quite interesting.
Shortening development and deployment cycles and shrinking feature release sets actually helps improving software and deployment quality by creating faster and more accurate feedback loops. By looking at these concept in this way, buzzez like DevOps and Agile actually get some hands and feet. One of the lessons, though, is that doing things this way do not eliminate work or automagically solve various issues for you! It will help in getting predictability and continuity into your software development processes.
A nice eye-opening remark finally, was… “no, I don’t pay you to make something work on your computer, I pay you to make something work on my computer(s)!!”

Another talk I was able to attend was around Blockchains. Something I knew nothing of and was actually quite interested in. Nick Zeeb took us through a very lively and very animated tour of what actually a Blockchain is and what the awesome potential of this technology can be. I was impressed.

With this, the second day draw to and end and therewith also my turn “in the pit”. As this event is held in a movie-theater, every room had a sloped tribune, which was often packed with enthusiastic participants. I had the opportunity to share my thoughts on the comparison between PostgreSQL and Oracle.
The session was very well attended with a lot of questions regarding the possibilities of using these other technologies in scales that were not really considered before. You can find a recording of the actual presentation here as soon as it comes available.

Riga Dev Days was a good conference. I would recommend everyone to either attend or submit an abstract for their event in 2018!!

#Oracle cutting in inspiration and new business?

Over the many years Oracle has been leading the database world, I guess they are now taking something of a wrong turn.
Let me briefly fill you in on my thoughts.

Basically I see two “minor” shifts that are significantly indicative of this:

  1. Oracle Standard Edition 2
  2. Oracle ACE Program

Okay, so you might think I am crazy, but let me try to explain.

Oracle Standard Edition 2

Sometime last year, the long expected, anticipated…, dreaded perhaps even, change to the Oracle database licensing strategy was there.

Oracle Standard Edition (SE) and Oracle Standard Edition One (SE1) licenses were addressed.
There was A LOT of debate on this, I mean, A LOT. Discussions which ran all the way back to HQ, and were driven by passionate people inside and outside of Oracle, inside and outside of the Oracle community… To no avail.

It had been very clear for quite a long time that the SE / SE1 strategy was nothing short of unsustainable inside the Oracle licensing realm. Even though, Oracle SE and SE1 enabled many projects and customers to adopt the phenomenal Oracle technology for their projects. It has some limitations, but with smart thinking and smart planning, a lot of projects could be run with Oracle SE(1). “I am such a good DBA, I can even do it with Oracle Standard Edition!”
Alas, we now have Oracle Standard Edition 2 (SE2) with a new and upgraded price of US 17k (!!) making this solution rather out of the question for many of the projects meant in the above. Please note that SE1 already was a significant investment for some of the projects I have learned to know over the years in regions as the Baltics and Africa.
Yes, of course, I know you can do all of this “In the cloud”. But with the limitation that there are hardly any CSPs (Cloud Service Providers 😉 that enable you to make use of the “cheaper” Oracle license. If you want to leverage your local cloud vendor (mind my word-choice here) it’s BYOL (Bring Your Own License) and, voila, you’re done in for anyway.

Hence, the first significant “shift” in Oracle’s span of attention for new business, creativity and growth…

Oracle ACE Program

More recently there was also a change in the Oracle ACE Program. Which has also led to much debate. But… that bit of the change I am not referring too, I am referring to the bit that does not affect me directly…

Oracle has a small number of very highly appreciated and “industry leading” community advocates called “Oracle ACE Directors”. These people not only have a deep knowledge of everything that is happening in this corner “of the industry”, but are also very passionate about sharing this knowledge. Sharing with Oracle Users, sharing with stakeholders within the Oracle organization, basically, with everyone with a hunger for knowledge around the technology.

For this, these Directors had a few privileges. When the invested their time and their energy in traveling this globe to share, Oracle would support them in some of their travel expenses. This always had the air of “wow, they are paid”. Believe me, it was bare minimal support, just a flying ticket and a hotel-bed to a previously approved conference, when they actually were accepted to do a talk. Nothing shiny, nothing business-classy…

Until now. With the changes to the system, also these modest privileges for the Directors have seized to be.

There was my second significant “shift” in Oracle’s span of attention for new business, creativity and growth…

It has me worried… I should not worry, as it does not affect my day-to-day business… yet.

Albeit we have this cool tech, with PL/SQL, with APEX, with all the features, options and what not, to create solutions that could really better the word (I also firmly believe this).

Oracle is just closing this door, and my toes were still in the doorway, so that hurts.

This was my rant, hope it helps.