PostgreSQL is a Hot Database Choice yet Again

It seems the venerable PostgreSQL database is garnering a new wave of buzz across the IT industry. Maybe our series of articles on Postgres earlier this year helped contribute to this newfound hipness? Probably not, but modern tech organizations hoping for a cheaper alternative to Oracle while still getting support for NoSQL consider it to be a worthy option.

Let’s look more closely at some of the reasons why PostgreSQL remains one of the hottest databases – relational or not – on the market. Perhaps it makes sense for your team’s next data-centric web or desktop application?

Postgres is actually growing in Popularity!?

PostgreSQL’s increase in popularity caught the attention of InfoWorld magazine, who recently talked about the database’s hot factor earlier this month. In fact, Postgres now ranks as the 4th most popular database in the industry, according to a study by DB-Engines. Not surprisingly, the only three DBs ranked higher are Oracle, MySQL, and SQL Server.

The reasons for the growing popularity of Postgres – especially with younger developers – are numerous. InfoWorld’s writer, Matt Asay notes the improved performance brought by the support for JSON included in PostgreSQL 9.2 and boosted in version 9.4. Another important reason involves programmers growing tired of trying to fit even hipper NoSQL options like MongoDB into solution where a relational database makes the most sense.

Ultimately, in a situation when an old-school DB works best, PostgreSQL’s open source nature is simply more cost effective than Oracle or SQL Server. In fact, Postgres first earned its mojo as a cheaper alternative to Oracle. Still, could this old school database scale fast enough for use in modern web applications?

PostgreSQL and its newfound Scalability

The ubiquitous nature of social networks like Facebook and Twitter puts the onus on modern web applications to be extremely scalable. Most RDBMS options generally provide poor scalability, as did Postgres for most of its existence. Asay notes the introduction of Citus, an extension for PostgreSQL, provides a level of scalability rivaling many of the popular NoSQL databases.

Citus supports Postgres instances across multiple nodes, while providing a distributed model for transactions and SQL queries. These features give this veteran relational database the parallelism required for a massively scalable application able to compete in today’s market place. Take that, Cassandra.

While Citus is available as an open source extension, the company that developed it also offers a commercial version with full support. This is a similar model that EnterpriseDB followed with PostgreSQL itself. Citus provides a great option for shops working with Postgres for development and them implementing Citus for extra scalability before going live.

It also lets companies take advantage of their in-house talent’s database skills without spending on training in the latest NoSQL database options. These bonuses are arguably behind the still growing popularity of PostgreSQL.  Elijah Zupancic‏, the Director of Solutions Engineering for Joyent comments on some of the other core reasons.

“From a developer perspective, it is a pleasure to use. The documentation is wonderful, the data types reflect the types developers work with, and there is little surprising.”

Keep coming back to the Betica Blog for additional insights on software development, testing, and occasionally, databases.

Barman and repmgr – Essential Tools for PostgreSQL

If your company’s software engineers are veterans with PostgreSQL, chances are pretty good they are also familiar with the utilities, Barman and repmgr. Barman handles the management of the backup and recovery process for a Postgres instance. While repmgr, as hinted at by its name, performs a similar role with replication – in fact repmgr also offers a measure of integration with Barman.

Let’s take a closer look at both tools to see if they make sense as part of your PostgreSQL implementation. If your team is considering Postgres as a cheaper alternative to Oracle, perhaps this additional information helps make your decision easier. Good luck!

Barman – the PostgreSQL Choice for Disaster Recovery

Developed by the well-known purveyor of Postgres support, training, and development, 2ndQuadrant, Barman is a worthy open source option for organizations needing a tool to handle backups and restores for PostgreSQL. It also plays an important role in any company’s disaster recovery process. Barman helps ensure databases are back online as quickly as possible – a vital factor in achieving business continuity.

In fact, Barman focuses its functionality on disaster recovery scenarios. It supports the remote and hot backups of multiple database servers, while helping DBAs or other network personnel get everything up and running again. The tool also provides remote management capabilities for multiple servers, including ssh support.

Other features include the local storage of metadata, PITR (Point-In-Time-Recovery), file compression, retention policies, incremental backups, tar integration, and more. In short, Barman is a fully functional backup and recovery solution for Postgres. Since it is written in Python, companies with developers skilled in that language can make modifications as needed.

Version 2.1 of Barman was released earlier this year. 2ndQuadrant also provides documentation as well as commercial support and consulting options. As an open source software product, a robust online community is available for advice on usage. Any company using PostgreSQL needs to explore Barman as an option for database backup and disaster recovery.

Manage PostgreSQL Replication with repmgr

Another open source Postgres utility developed by 2ndQuadrant, repmgr handles database replication across multiple PostgreSQL servers. The latest version of repmgr – 3.3.1 – was released in March of 2017, supporting Postgres versions 9.3 and later. It leverages streaming replication and the PostgreSQL 9 Hot Standby feature to ensure superior performance in high scalability and availability environments as well as ease of administration.

One of the unsurprising features of repmgr, considering the developer, is its seamless integration with Barman. You are able to make clones from a Barman archive, instead of accessing a live server. This helps prevent a performance hit on a production server.  If live streaming replication gets interrupted, an archive can be easily used in a pinch.

As with Barman, 2ndQuadrant also provides commercial-level support and consulting options with repmgr. When used together, both tools make it easier for companies to build an industry-leading relational database solution at a fraction of the cost of going with Oracle. It is yet another example of the benefits of open source software.

Stay tuned to the Betica Blog for additional news and insights from the wide world of software development. As always, thanks for reading!

PostgreSQL 10 – New Features and Functionality

PostgreSQL remains a popular option for organizations that need a traditional SQL database, but don’t want to spend the money required for Oracle. We’ve covered this open source database in the past here on the blog. For those companies who want extra support, a commercial Postgre option like EnterpriseDB needs to be considered.

With PostgreSQL 10 scheduled for release later this year, many users are undoubtedly curious about the new features and functionality. Let take a closer look at what’s in the feature set so you can consider either an upgrade or using this new version on your next development project.

Improved Query Performance

One of the most important enhancements in PostgreSQL 10 is its faster query executor. The database is already known for performing essentially as fast as Oracle, so any additional speed boost is sure to make those benchmark comparisons even closer.

Robert Haas, Vice President for Enterprise DB and a major contributor to the PostgreSQL codebase, commented on the technical changes behind the executor’s performance boost. “Hash aggregation has been rewritten to use a more efficient hash table and store narrower tuples in it, and work has also been done to speed up queries that compute multiple aggregates and joins where one side can be proven unique,” said Haas.

Improved parallelism is another enhancement in Postgre aimed at boosting query performance. Haas noted that parallel queries now run two to four times faster in version 10. Index scanning is another function now faster because of parallel processing.

The new XMLTABLE support improves query processing against data stored internally as XML. This is the one PostgreSQL 10 enhancement aimed at the NoSQL market.

Replication is now Better – and Easier

PostgreSQL 10 now supports replication at the table level; previous versions required the full database to be replicated. This additional flexibility comes with the bonus of being easier to use as well. Called Logical Replication, it is a feature greatly anticipated in the PostgreSQL community.

Extended Statistics help with Query Planning

Developers who write complex queries against a PostgreSQL 10 instance enjoy the benefit of expanded statistics that help the query planning process. Haas explains this in more detail: “If the query planner makes a bad row count estimate resulting in a terrible plan, how do you fix it?  With extended statistics, you can tell the system to gather additional statistics according to parameters that you specify, which may help it get the plan right.”

Other PostgreSQL 10 Enhancements

Other significant Postgre 10 improvements include Declarative Partitioning which makes inserting new records faster, among other benefits. Support for SCRAM authentication enhances the security of a database instance. Durable Hash Indexes are another new feature aimed at boosting database performance.

One future enhancement potentially coming out in a point release is just-in-time compilation. This is expected to add yet another performance boost to any PostgreSQL implementation.

PostgreSQL 10 definitely adds enough new functionality for current users as well as organizations interested in an alternative to Oracle. While its NoSQL support remains limited, it is definitely a traditional SQL database worthy of your interest. EnterpriseDB also offers commercial-level support for companies still wary of an open source solution.

Keep returning to the Betica Blog for additional dispatches from the software development world. Thanks for reading!