The NoSQL Capabilities of PostgreSQL

Many businesses of all sizes leverage PostgreSQL as an open source option to Oracle and other relational databases. Significant cost savings while maintaining a similar level of performance remains a preeminent reason for this switch. A robust community and the availability of commercial-grade support make Postgres worthy of consideration for your traditional database needs. 

With NoSQL gaining popularity all over the technology world, you may wonder how PostgreSQL supports this new database paradigm. Let’s take a look at what functionality exists today in the database with a quick towards the future as well.

Postgres NoSQL for the Enterprise

We’ve talked about EnterpriseDB’s commercial level version of PostgreSQL previously on the blog. The company also offers a Postgres version with support for document databases and key-value stores – two of the most common NoSQL database types. Known as Postgres NoSQL for the Enterprise, this is something worthy of closer attention at companies looking for an open source mix of relational and NoSQL databases.

This Postgres database solution combines the speed and flexibility of NoSQL with the traditional SQL database functionality required for enterprise use – most notably the support for ACID (atomic, consistent, isolated, and durable) transactions. Database instances also easily integrate into the existing business data infrastructure, no matter the platform. In short, it provides the best of both worlds – relational and NoSQL.

ACID transactions are vital for business organizations that depend on the real-time validity of the relationships within its data. Many current NoSQL databases don’t offer this feature, instead following the BASE paradigm which emphasizes speed and availability over the consistency of the data. Postgres NoSQL lets companies combine unstructured and structured data; mixing the performance of NoSQL with the more formalized governance of traditional SQL.

Postgres NoSQL supports many industry standards for programmatic access and data exchange. These include Ruby, Python, and JavaScript for the former, and the JSON and XML formats in the latter case. The superior performance of PostgreSQL combined with the seamless scalability typical of a NoSQL database solution make EnterpriseDB’s combination of Postgres and NoSQL a valid option for any business desiring a flexible database infrastructure.

The Future of PostgreSQL and NoSQL

In a previous article looking at new features of PostgreSQL 10, we noted the relative lack of NoSQL functionality in this newest version of Postgres, slated for release later this year. The new XMLTABLE feature supports the direct querying of data stored in XML documents. Other performance improvements in version 10 bring the speed of the relational database closer to its other NoSQL brethren.

One recent enhancement in Amazon Web Services deserves mention for companies using a mixture of relational and NoSQL databases. The AWS database migration service now includes NoSQL databases, with MongoDB (as a source) and Amazon’s own DynamoDB (as a target) being the first two to be supported. This means companies with a PostgreSQL instance on AWS are able to stream data from Postgres to a DynamoDB instance.

Companies with an investment in PostgreSQL need to explore EnterpriseDB’s NoSQL option to see if any of its features make sense for adding non-traditional database formats to the corporate data infrastructure.

Keep returning to the Betica Blog for additional news and insights from the wide world of software development. Thanks for reading!

A Closer Look at Application Lifecycle Management (ALM)

Application lifecycle management (ALM) is the process of nurturing a software product from the initial genesis of an idea all the way through the application’s final stages. Nearly all aspects of the software development and deployment processes fall under this overarching banner. Many organizations – especially smaller ones – engage in some form ALM without knowing so, but firms aiming towards Agile, DevOps, and Continuous Deployment benefit from a formalized version of the process.

Let’s take a high level view of ALM to see if leveraging the practice at your software development organization makes sense. Maybe it ends up helping you better organize your application engineering efforts?

Documentation and Tracking are Vital in ALM

Documenting and tracking everything related to a software application – requirements gathering, design, development, deployment, change control, etc. – is one essential goal of any ALM process. This is becoming more important throughout the industry as companies increasingly move to a DevOps model. In the past, a different team would handle an app’s development compared to its subsequent management in a production environment; now these tasks are more likely to be shared.

Additionally, the Agile methodology tends to keep developers more involved with an application after its initial deployment. Quickly making enhancements and bug fixes remains a major reason enterprises are embracing Agile and DevOps at their shops. Some form of ALM process ensures everything works more efficiently, especially when it comes to managing the overall effort.

A Wide Range of ALM Tools Exist

When looking at an ALM tool, a variety of options exist depending on the specific needs of your company. The bare bones approach involves simply using some form of wiki, where developers, network engineers, QA personnel, and business analysts are responsible for maintaining all documentation related to an application. Obviously, this offers significant cost savings compared to using an off-the-shelf solution.

For those enterprises looking for a robust suite of applications for ALM, consider IBM’s Collaborative Lifecycle Management solution. Analyzing its functionality also serves well as an example of what features to expect out of any commercial ALM software.

In an integrated fashion, CLM handles requirements management, QA, change control, configuration management, as well as project planning and tracking. The CLM suite includes IBM Rational Team Concert for the project management role, IBM Rational Quality Manager for software testing, and IBM Rational DOORS Next Generation for requirements management.

The tool includes support for the Scaled Agile Framework, suitable for companies first implementing Agile. It also provides a one-stop solution for the integration of DevOps. A robust reporting engine offers the means to analyze every step of your ALM process.

If your organization wants an alternative to Big Blue’s ALM product, TeamForge ALM is one solution suitable for companies leveraging open source applications for development and deployment. HP also offers ALM products – including a Cloud-based SaaS offering – that play well with other third-party solutions, providing a valid alternative to IBM’s one-vendor ALM suite.

Ultimately, it is up to your company to perform due diligence on either using a simple in-house ALM solution or purchasing a suite from a vendor. If you are beginning a journey down the path of Agile and DevOps, some form of ALM process definitely makes it an easier trip!

When you need additional insights from the world of software development, check out the Betica Blog for the latest from this constantly evolving industry. Thanks for reading!

News from the World of Software Development – April 2017

Here is another edition of our monthly news digest at the Betica Blog. We search for interesting and relevant stories to provide insights to your daily application engineering activities. Last month’s digest is available at this link, if you are interested in checking it out.

With spring in full force in the Northern Hemisphere, hopefully these stories inspire your own software development efforts.

The “Internet of Trains” improving the Efficiency of Railroads

The German company, Siemens, plans to open a software development center in Atlanta with the goal of making railroading more efficient. Called the Data Analytics and Applications Center, the company’s efforts are dubbed with the “Internet of Trains” moniker. News about Siemens’ Atlanta investment was reported on in the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

Reducing downtime while increasing the mileage for each train requires an increased investment in digital technology with the hopes of modernizing railway infrastructure as well as the trains and boxcars themselves. Siemens is known all over the world for their power transmission and signaling and control technology used in the rail industry. Their Internet of Trains solution also focuses on data analytics and predictive software.

The company’s Director of Mobility Delivery Services Gerhard Kress commented on the goals of the project. “We are heading towards next-generation maintenance. It is all about increasing up-time and avoiding unplanned downtime. If we predict incidents early enough we, and our customers, can react accordingly,” said Kress.

Siemens’ work is another example of how data analytics and Web-enabled devices are ushering in an era of innovation in many different industries.

The VA hoping to outsource Modernization of its COBOL Systems

The venerable COBOL language surprisingly still lurks in many legacy systems in the financial industry and government agencies. The United States Department of Veterans Affairs hopes to finally enter the 21st Century when it comes to its technology infrastructure, and is looking to outsource the reengineering of their application inventory. News about the VA’s planned migration was published earlier in April at FedScoop.

Acting VA CIO Rob Thomas commented on the reasons behind his department’s move away from internal application development. “We’re going full into commercial — we’re going to be doing software-as-a-service, we’re going to be doing platform-as-a-service, infrastructure-as-a-service. We’re getting out of the software development business — it’s not a core competency. I see a future for us where we go digital platform both on the benefits side and the health side,” Thomas explained.

A business opportunity lurks for software development shops and SaaS providers hoping to gain customers from the government sector. A measure of COBOL knowledge would also help these companies when reverse engineering existing systems.

Incorporate Design Thinking for Better Software Architecture

This week, Forbes published another article by Scott Stiner, CEO of UM Technologies discussing how to incorporate design thinking into the software architecture process. We covered Stiner’s approach to Agile software development in last month’s news digest.

Stiner feels design thinking helps quickly create solutions to solve problems while building a superior user experience. “The Design Thinking process also creates a stronger relationship with the client, considering developers will work closely with the client to understand that client’s core customers. The advantages are many in this regard, and they help speed up the overall development process,” said Stiner.

The entire article is filled with useful insights to help your team build better applications that make your customers happy – and satisfied clients lead to more business opportunities.

Keep coming back to the Betica Blog for additional insights and news from the evolving software development world.