“Why migrate to Postgres?” is a question that we used to hear a lot in the past. There used to be a number of different reasons to migrate including, take advantage of new technology, a change of staff skills, vendor consolidation caused friction and of course, cost. Nowadays, the main reason we hear for migrating is just cost. Plain and simple, customers want to reduce their infrastructure costs and one way of taking a big bite out of those costs is to switch your database platform. Moving to an open source database such as PostgreSQL is certainly a step in the right direction since you have the choice to purchase support for the database or support the database on your own. Even if you choose to get a support contract for PostgreSQL, the costs, relative to the proprietary database vendors, are miniscule.
There used to be a lot of resistance to the idea of migrating to open source databases due to a lack of features and functionality but projects like PostgreSQL have evolved quickly and now offer most of the features and functionality that companies need and want…all at no license cost. In addition to simply offering the same functionality as existing proprietary relational databases, PostgreSQL has evolved into a multi-purpose database where you can host traditional relational systems as well as host ‘newer’ types of systems such as key-value stores and NoSQL documents. So, in one, free, database, PostgreSQL offers you the best of all worlds without the risk of moving to a database that has only been around for a few years. PostgreSQL has been around for over 15 years in active development with it’s origin having been formed well before that.
The other main cause of resistance was skills. Too many dbas feared that moving to another, cheaper database meant giving up their acquired skills since cheaper had to mean less features. Add to that the fear that PostgreSQL was so different from other databases like SQL Server or Oracle, that it would be difficult or costly to ramp up on it. What many have found is that the reality is the exact opposite. Looking at the origins of PostgreSQL, you see that it was built with many of the same concepts as Oracle and SQL Server thus giving both types of dbas a level of familiarity that makes the ramp up time significantly shorter as compared to making a change from something like SQL Server to Oracle which share no common architecture at all. Now, dbas see adding PostgreSQL skills as a career enhancer and a step forward instead of a step back or laterally since PostgreSQL offers so many new capabilities above what traditional relational databases offer.
To further reduce your risk of migrating to an open source database, various companies like OpenSCG have emerged that offer the same type of support and services around PostgreSQL that you already get from your proprietary database vendors. These open source focused companies offer very flexible and low cost subscriptions that provide you access to the same support levels and technical expertise that you are accustom to getting from other vendors. Most have migration services to help you get from point a to point b thus you do not need to fear not having in house expertise just to get started.
So, in the end, the question changes from “why migrate” to “can a migration be successful”, “what applications do I start with” and “how do I migrate”. We will be exploring those questions in future posts so check back here often.
You can read more about our migration approach in our Migration Whitepaper.