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Fujitsu foots the bill for new PostgreSQL database features

By Jay Lyman on July 01, 2004 (8:00:00 AM)

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Fujitsu this week announced an expanded collaboration with Microsoft on servers for mainframe computing, but the Japanese hardware giant is also investing in open source, paving the way for a handful of new PostgreSQL functions that will benefit all of the open source database's users.

The Japanese company, folding Windows as well as Linux and other open source into its mix of strategy, will support the BSD-based PostgreSQL database with code contributions and underwriting development that will be a part of version 7.5 of the database, PostgreSQL core team member Josh Berkus said. It is expected to be available before the end of the year.

Berkus said Fujitsu, which brought in $45 billion last year, is the largest company to contribute directly to PostreSQL to date, adding that the PostgreSQL community expects its relationship with Fujitsu to continue for "at least the next few years."

"We're delighted to have Fujitsu involved with PostgreSQL development in such a meaningful way," said Bruce Momjian, PostgreSQL core steering committee member and employee of Software Research Associates, which is partnering with Fujitsu for the underwriting effort. "By sponsoring the work of key individuals in our community, they are accelerating the pace of development of key features required for the enterprise."

Fujitsu beats feature freeze

While Berkus referred to a July 1 freeze on features for the next version of the database, he reported three new features in PosgreSQL -- Tablespaces, Nested Transactions, and Java support -- that are being underwritten by Fujitsu in partnership with Tokyo-based SRA will be included in version 7.5.

"Much of this new functionality will be present in the forthcoming release of PostgreSQL, which is shaping up as the most significant new release of the software since version 7.0 almost four years ago," Berkus said, referring to full point-in-time recovery and two-phase commit, data integrity and scalability improvements, native Windows edition, and solutions for high availability, clustering, and replication currently being developed for different user requirements.

Berkus described the new Fujitsu-formed features as follows:

  • Tablespaces is a means of partitioning large amounts of data easily and efficiently on separate storage devices, a key requirement for maintaining PostgreSQL's performance on large databases in the hundreds of gigabytes, and terabyte range;
  • Nested Transactions allows application developers a very granular level of control over database commits and rollbacks, which is particularly significant for maintaining data integrity and porting applications from other database platforms;
  • Robust support for stored procedures in Java that exceeds the goals of the SQLJ specification in the ANSI SQL99 standard.

"Coupled with enhancements to the JDBC driver [for Java database connectivity], PostgreSQL will now have enterprise-class support for Java at several layers of the technology stack," Berkus said.

Part of enterprise entree

The new features will be available in the main open source PostgreSQL database, available for free download from the group's site. Fujitsu will also continue to work with SRA on an enhanced PostgreSQL package under the PowerGres and PowerGres Pro brands in Japan and worldwide.

Tom Szolnoky, a senior program manager at Fujitsu's Australian subsidiary concurred that the Japanese company is looking for a long-term relationship with and expanded enterprise horizons for PostreSQL.

"We would like to continue to grow our involvement with the PostreSQL community in the areas of relationships, collaboration, and commensurate funding sponsorship," Szolnoky said. "Our objective is to make PostgreSQL enterprise ready."

Berkus said although no release date has been set, adding that "it's an OSS project, we don't believe in fixed schedules, you know" -- and that PostgreSQL 7.5 will not be ready until all of the bugs are eliminated and regression testing is done, the community has hopes of "catching up with the big proprietary databases."

"If all of the currently testing features make it, we'll have eliminated half the features that separate us from Oracle, Sybase Enterprise, or DB2, making PostgreSQL an even better contender for high-end database products," Berkus said.

Berkus also highlighted the forthcoming Windows port of PostgreSQL, which is expected to bring the group thousands of new users.

"I've been told that the current beta version, which requires source compilation using special Windows tools, is being downloaded at an average of 1,000 copies a week," Berkus said.

Cashing in on community

Fujitsu may be the largest, but it is far from the only company that has contributed code, cash through sponsorship, or other support to PostgreSQL. Among the more notable contributions are a number of tools, including Visual Explain and one of the PostgreSQL GUIs, from Red Hat. There is also the open sourcing of developments, including the PL/PHP module Java-based GUI and Web framework from Command Prompt Inc., which has also contributed to development of the ecpg library -- a backend component of PostgreSQL -- and the overhaul of the PL/perl module.

Corporate support has also come from PostgreSQL Inc., which contributed an earlier generation replication system, eRServer, that was part of an announced strategy to keep the server proprietary for a year and then open source it, which the company did.

More recently, .org and .info domain registry company Afilias has sponsored developer Jan Wieck to work full time on developing a new, enterprise-class replication system for PostgreSQL called Slony-I, to be presented next month at OSCON in Portland, Ore.

Afilias spokeswoman Heather Carle said her company, a major supporter of open source that makes its own code publicly available, is heavily engaged in the PostgreSQL community and stands to gain from that community's expertise.

"There's an advantage with an open source community, because once you've released something, you have a lot of different people to look at it, provide bug fixes and add on top of what you're doing," Carle said.

Carle also said that the accessibility and availability of publicly available source code helps create a bridge for Internet newcomers and developing markets, where country codes have proven fruitful for Afilias.

Berkus said companies give in to PostgreSQL for what they get out in terms of improved products and expanded markets.

"Many companies contribute substantial code to the PostgreSQL Project because it is complimentary to their product line or business," he said. "This means that improvements to PostreSQL, and the increased adoption which follows, benefits sales of the company's core products. Additionally, many corporate marketing departments realize that the open source community forms a 'grassroots marketing brigade,' which is very difficult to match through traditional marketing methods. This means that being perceived as a 'good open source citizen' can be a considerable benefit to a company's sales as well as technical recruitment."

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on Fujitsu foots the bill for new PostgreSQL database features

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Now starting marketing it better than MySQL

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on July 02, 2004 02:16 PM
Now I hope these esteemed sponsors can help PostgreSQL get out of the "we're the most powerful database even though we don't market it" slump. I'm sick of hearing about MySQL but their spin-doctors are doing good work. I hope a few bucks from Fujitsu can go toward an effective spear from the PostgreSQL advocacy group.


is it really $45 billion?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on July 05, 2004 12:02 PM
I'm just trying to make things sure, but did Mr.Berkus really say $45 billion?

The number "$45 billion" is so tremendous so I thought it may be a mishearing or typo or some error.

For comparisons, (regarding to Yahoo! Finance)The market cap. of Red Hat, Inc. today is about $4 billion.


Re:is it really $45 billion?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on July 05, 2004 09:41 PM

They are a very large electronics company: main frames, hard drives, notebook computers, etc. They also have a services group.


Re:is it really $45 billion?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on July 06, 2004 11:37 AM
Thanks for replying.
I know about Fujitsu, because I live in Japan<nobr> <wbr></nobr>:-)

But still I have to say I doubt for $45 billion...

The market cap. of Fujitsu in Tokyo market today is about 1471 billion yen (is about $13 billion), and according to their IR papers their total assets are about 3865 billion yen (is about $35 billion). So they can't be able to pay $45 billion.

I thought it might be a mistake of 45 million yen (is about $410000) or something.


Re:is it really $45 billion?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on July 07, 2004 12:59 AM
Read it again! $45 billion is what the company brought in as a whole, "NOT!" what they contributed to the cause!

      Even at that though, I think might have cooked the numbers.


Re:is it really $45 billion?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on July 09, 2004 08:45 AM
When they say 'brought in' they mean sales for a year. The last sales figure I've seen says around $40 billion for 2003 so $45 billion may be high but it also wouldn't be out of the question for 2004.


What about Windows Support?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on July 06, 2004 09:03 AM
I think the primary drawback of PostgreSQL has been lack of support for Windows (outside of cygwin).

Another drawback is the lack of support for PostgreSQL on most web hosting providers.

I hope PostgreSQL 7.5 has very solid support for Windows--most people will probably use PostgreSQL for the first time on Windows so a good first impression is critical.


Re:What about Windows Support?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on July 10, 2004 02:11 PM
PostGreSQL is not a windows program. While I think that a Win32 port would help, I also feel that it should be avoided until it is fully ready to make a big impact. Anyone running a server that needs an SQL server and is already using Win32 has probably been brainwashed by MS anyway.

Personally I feel that putting PostGreSQL on a Win32 machine defeats the whole purpose of using higher quality open source software. It's like putting $10,000 leather seats in a Chrysler.


Re:What about Windows Support?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on July 11, 2004 02:41 PM
Actually having windows support would help out during development and marketting purposes. There are those people who develop under a Windows PC but deploy/demonstrate the solution on unix based platforms, running the product under cygwin emulation slows down the developers and won't make the product look good for marketting. -- <A HREF="" title=""></a>


Re:What about Windows Support?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on July 18, 2004 10:21 PM
Microsoft has released Windows Services for UNIX (SFU) 3.5.

They have shoehorned opensource compatability into Windows.

This should enable postgres to work on windows without emulation overhead. Only overhead is cost of windows task forking.


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