PostgreSQL advantages and challenges: A snapshot

The database market continues to be splintered amongst open supply and industrial merchandise, with a number of choices in every camp. PostgreSQL, a three-decades-old, community-supported open supply undertaking, continues to achieve in reputation and is utilized in manufacturing by massive enterprises in lots of components of the world.

Yandex, for instance, shops petabytes of information in PostgreSQL, which permits the corporate’s e-mail service to deal with greater than 150 million emails a day. GitLab, which has been utilizing Postgres for years, maintains a big cluster that handles 181,000 transactions per second. IKEA, which moved to PostgreSQL to cut back its whole value of possession (TCO), has a lot of databases operating a number of terabytes of information.

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Lastly, InCountry, a startup serving to worldwide digital companies adjust to native legal guidelines in additional than a hundredcountries, makes use of Postgres to energy its data-residency-as-a-service international distributed database. It’s a sophisticated and complex resolution requiring a mature and dependable database administration system.

To grasp if PostgreSQL is the correct database in your tasks, it’s important to grasp the way it suits into the database panorama, in addition to its particular advantages and challenges.

The advantages of PostgreSQL

Various traits and options of Postgres make it applicable for a really big selection of purposes:

  • Code high quality – Each line of code going into PostgreSQL is reviewed by a number of consultants, and the complete improvement course of is community-driven, so bug reporting, fixes, and verification are completed in a short time.
  • Extensibility – PostgreSQL is an especially versatile resolution with extensions masking the wants of practically each potential use case. Even in the event you want one thing very particular, equivalent to help for sure information varieties or prolonged logging performance, you possibly can write your individual extension or have a PostgreSQL vendor do it for you.
  • SQL and NoSQL – PostgreSQL can be utilized as each a standard SQL relational database administration system for rows of transactional or statistical information, and as a NoSQL resolution for storing JSON paperwork. This flexibility can cut back prices and improve your safety posture. Utilizing only one database administration system means you don’t want to rent or contract with the experience required to arrange, handle, safe, and replace a number of database options.
  • Spatial information – Companies usually depend on Postgres for purposes that use spatial information as a result of Postgres has some wonderful capabilities for dealing with such information. For instance, Postgres has particular information varieties for geometrical objects, and PostGIS permits simple and quick spatial database creation. This has made Postgres particularly well-liked with transportation and logistics firms.
  • Information availability and resiliency – For mission-critical manufacturing environments, equivalent to for presidency companies, monetary providers corporations, and healthcare firms, privately supported variations of PostgreSQL present further high-availability, resiliency, and safety features. 

PostgreSQL additionally has just a few vital benefits over different open supply databases:

  • Not managed by a single vendor – Not like another open supply databases, Postgres is just not a single-vendor resolution. The progress of a single-vendor resolution is finally 100% depending on the choices of the seller, not the person group. It’s the identical for bug fixes. Solely the seller decides what will be fastened within the subsequent launch. Whereas the person group can put stress on the seller – and good distributors take heed to their person communities – there’s at all times a robust risk that the wants of some customers might be ignored.
  • No vendor lock-in – If an open supply DBMS is privately owned, the seller will sometimes attempt to lock in prospects by promoting a household of complementary merchandise, equivalent to cloud infrastructure that comes with database as a service (DBaaS). Whereas these merchandise could also be fascinating for getting probably the most out of the database, additionally they make it tougher for the shopper to change to different options.
  • Reputation – As famous above, PostgreSQL is a very talked-about resolution. That is vital as a result of firms that standardize on an open supply database with a comparatively small buyer base will discover restricted choices in relation to getting third-party set up, troubleshooting, or consulting providers. It is going to even be tougher to search out individuals to rent with the suitable stage of experience. And whether or not you’re seeking to rent or contract for a service, the comparatively uncommon experience will doubtless come at a better worth – if it exists in any respect.

The challenges of PostgreSQL

Whereas all these advantages of Postgres are compelling, there are vital challenges to concentrate on when adopting this database. Postgres challenges embody:

Value – There’s a widespread misperception that, as an open supply resolution, PostgreSQL is 100% free. Nonetheless, whereas downloading, putting in, and utilizing the answer are free, there are nearly at all times prices associated to migration, help, and upkeep – and these prices shouldn’t be underestimated. So it could be vital to work with a PostgreSQL guide early on to find out what these prices could also be.

Time – Guaranteeing a seamless PostgreSQL improvement or migration undertaking can take longer than anticipated. Sudden points usually require further analysis that may delay progress. So it is very important construct time for on-the-fly analysis into the undertaking schedule from the start.

Not managed by a single vendor – Whereas that is listed as a profit above, it additionally has a possible draw back. Customers shifting to PostgreSQL might want to select amongst a number of distributors and options that carry out the identical operate. For instance, Postgres has 5 backup options from totally different firms. This implies you could take the time to grasp the advantages and challenges of every one, so you possibly can select the best choice in your use case. Once more, for firms simply getting began with Postgres, it could be useful to hunt the recommendation of a guide.

PostgreSQL on-premises vs. within the cloud – Working with PostgreSQL within the cloud is just not the identical as on-premises. Many Postgres extensions are unavailable within the cloud, and distributors usually lock some default settings, which limits Postgres configurations and capabilities. The price for cloud useful resource consumption may also be fairly excessive. Actually, many firms have needed to transfer from Amazon RDS again to on-premises Postgres to achieve management over bills and guarantee scalability.

Deployment dimension – Whereas switching to Postgres will doubtless be simple for small companies with small databases, midsize firms and enormous enterprises will shortly face migration challenges that may require working with a help vendor or migration service.

In-house experience – Sustaining any database administration system requires experience, and PostgreSQL is not any exception. Firms should examine the prices related to hiring the required experience versus having an present crew be taught Postgres from the bottom up after which depend on a third-party vendor or guide to complement the in-house crew. If you happen to’re hiring the experience, do that early sufficient within the course of to make sure the brand new crew can absolutely perceive the enterprise want and the enterprise logic of the appliance earlier than starting improvement or a migration. Subsequent, design a step-by-step migration plan that anticipates potential challenges.

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Even if you hire an in-house Postgres team, you should still consider working with a PostgreSQL consultant with years of expertise to review the development or migration plan and even test multiple vendor solutions to ensure the right fit. This will likely save significant time, effort, and money down the road.

PostgreSQL is a popular and well-supported database that continues to improve in ways that meet the needs of even the most complex, mission-critical use cases – which explains its growing adoption rates and why more and more enterprises are choosing it as their primary database management system. If projects are approached properly and supported by the right level of expertise, companies can ensure a successful deployment that will meet their evolving needs for years to come.

Ivan Panchenko is the co-founder and deputy CEO of Postgres Professional, a company focused on making PostgreSQL enterprise-ready. A PostgreSQL enthusiast and well-known member of the PostgreSQL community, Panchenko works closely with enterprise customers and helps define product strategy. Panchenko is a professional astrophysicist and a software developer who started developing PostgreSQL-based applications in 1998.

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