Enterprises could save up to 90 per cent on licensing costs by moving away from incumbent proprietary databases to an open source alternative, according to Frank Fanzilli (pictured), independent board director at PostgreSQL vendor EnterpriseDB and board director of the Linux Foundation.
Fanzilli, former global CIO at Credit Suisse First Boston, explained that banks have been adopting open source software, particularly Linux, since the 2008 crash in a bid to cut costs. Governments are also starting to trust open source to run mission-critical applications.
Realising such cost savings is becoming more feasible as the cloud allows increased portability and flexibility in the deployment of enterprise applications.
"People don't rip and replace that much. However, what the cloud does is force the move. It is like an avalanche. People are moving to the cloud for all sorts of reasons, among them significant reductions in the cost of computing," said Fanzilli.
"You have a two-pronged approach. You can save on the cloud and save on your relational database. You can build this into your architecture much more easily."
The cloud also encourages a multi-vendor approach with interconnection between databases, Fanzilli explained.
"When we engage a participant it's typically for a new application or a significant change in role in an existing application, for example to connect to other databases and use this as a hub. This is something that the majors intrinsically don't want you to do," he said.
Fanzilli believes that open source databases will change the landscape in the same way as Linux did on the server 10 or 15 years ago.
"Linux is everywhere. It's actually in far more places than people realise. I joined EnterpriseDB [last year] because I think something similar is happening in databases now," he said.
"I think the database world is still early on the adoption curve. A lot of products have a lot of hype around them. Linux has enjoyed a robust adoption curve but it's also taken a long time to get there. It's more than 25 years old.
"Even though Postgres has been around a long time we are probably at some place in the adoption curve as we were with Linux a decade ago, meaning people are starting to realise they have very significant alternatives to the traditional relational database in the enterprise."
The big difference, according to Fanzilli, is that it is easier to change an operating system than a database.
"The challenge for EnterpriseDB is to get them to use it for more mission-critical applications. Now in this area it's a little different from simply swapping out servers because swapping out database-based applications is actually incredibly difficult," he said.
However, cloud and economics are changing the equation.
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