Because information is so critical to a modern company, one of the most important assets that a business can possess is a functional, scalable and well-supported Relational Database Management System (RDBMS). This is true for the small business just starting to expand as well as for larger businesses.

Many

of the database systems currently available for Linux are open-source, which to a customer implies low initial purchase price. With all the benefits of open source, it is easy to forget that there are other factors to consider as a business grows in complexity and size. Customers need to plan for future growth such as increasing the number of users, or the amount of data supported by the database. Moving from an open-source database that cannot grow with the customer’s needs could entail costly migration and retraining, not to mention infrastructure upgrades, licensing and consulting fees. These costs can be far greater than the initial savings of acquiring an open-source database system, and can more than outweigh the initial purchase costs of DB2 UDB.

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Open Source Databases

There are two primary open source database competitors – MySQL and

PostgreSQL. MySQL is the most popular open source database and has the largest number of seats. MySQL can be downloaded for free, or ‘commercialized –upgraded’ versions may be purchased from companies such as NuSphere and MySQL AB.

MySQL AB is a Swedish company that develops, supports and markets the

MySQL database server globally. Their mission “”is to make superior data management available and affordable for all, and to contribute to building the mission-critical high-volume systems and products of tomorrow.”” MySQL AB also claims: “”Today MySQL is the most popular open source database server in the world with more than 4 million installations powering Web sites, datawarehouses, business applications, logging systems and more.”” MySQL AB’s goal is to broaden MySQL’s reach across the enterprise. MySQL supports many operating systems including Linux/Itanium Linux/zSeries along with its previous support for all major Linux distributions as well as Unix, Mac OS X and Windows operating systems. The company is privately and it is financed by venture capital since July 2001.

GreatBridge LLC had the same grand plan for PostgreSQL — that is to compete directly with DB2 and Oracle. Greatbridge set up a marketing and development Web site but went out of business about 1.5 years ago. Companies like Red Hat carry PostgreSQL in their portfolio, and various businesses provide support for the database.

Customers are implementing OSDBs for a variety of reasons, usually perceived ease of use and low cost. Both databases are fine for limited-use small-size applications. However, both have their limitations, and if the size of the application is going to grow as business needs dictate, then the customer can quickly hit the scalability limits of these databases. Other items to consider are: Will these companies be around in 5 years and what about the issues of multi-vendor support (i.e. finger pointing etc.)?

Pay now or pay later

VA Software (formally VA Linux) founded the SourceForge.net (sf.net) Web site. sf. net is the world’s largest open source software development Web site, with the largest repository of open source code and applications available on the Internet. sf.net launched in Nov 1999 and at the time had less than 500 hosted projects. Today, sf.net has over 59,000 hosted projects and over 1/2 million registered users. When sf.net launched, they decided to use PostgreSQL as the database. sf.net enjoyed tremendous growth — and as the number of users and applications increased, Postgres would crash four to five times a day because it couldn’t handle the increased number of transactions.

VA Software knew that to keep growing it would have to move to a more scalable database, and VA knew that the database would have to be a commercial variety. VA evaluated DB2 and Oracle and chose DB2 as the database to take them into the future. In fact, the sf.net site has the logo —

‘Powered by DB2’ to let the world know that DB2 is the database for all the repository of information. To make a point, this is a case where open source can and does intermesh well together. SourceForge.net is our poster child on why a company should consider DB2 upfront vs. OSDBs.

After the database was chosen it was time to evaluate and plan – cost number one. Once the evaluation phase was over it was time to migrate all the applications and data to DB2. It took them weeks to accomplish this – with our help – cost number 2! They also had to send their people to get trained on DB2 to support it – cost number 3! The point is this: Pay now or Pay later!

When choosing a database, customers should look beyond initial cost for the technology. Buying a database is an investment in a crucial corporate asset _ the customer’s data. Running open-source databases on Linux can mean expensive migrations, retraining and hidden support costs down the road as their business grows.

The investment in DB2 is much lower than the customer might think.

Customers can download DB2 for Linux and develop applications free of charge. Customers can get into a production level copy of DB2 for as low as

$369 list price which includes support and maintenance! And with the DB2

Express offering and additional promotions customers will have even more options. In addition, several white papers have been written that show DB2’s overall TCO is the lowest in the industry and those can be found at the DB2 home page.

Vicki Martin is a senior marketing manager for the IBM Software Group.

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