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Re: [ANNOUNCE] Postgres Success Stories

From: Thomas Good <tomg(at)nrnet(dot)org>
To: Jeff MacDonald <info(at)pgsql(dot)com>
Cc: Bruce Momjian <maillist(at)candle(dot)pha(dot)pa(dot)us>, pgsql-announce(at)postgresql(dot)org
Subject: Re: [ANNOUNCE] Postgres Success Stories
Date: 1999-06-10 13:15:57
Message-ID: Pine.LNX.3.96.990610091309.12117A-100000@mailhost.nrnet.org (view raw or flat)
Thread:
Lists: pgsql-announce
> From: Jeff MacDonald <jeff(at)hub(dot)org>
> Reply-To: Jeff MacDonald <info(at)pgsql(dot)com>
> To: pgsql-announce(at)postgresql(dot)org
> Subject: [ANNOUNCE] Postgres Success Stories
> 
> Greetings All, 
>  
>  	Do you use PostgreSQL ?
>  	Do you love it ?
>  	Do you want the world to know ?

Jeff - will this suffice?  If it is too terse I can flesh it out abit.  ;-)
Social Workers are notoriously verbose...thank God for the text data type! 


        North Richmond Community Mental Health Center
        ---------------------------------------------

is the Department of Psychiatry at the Sisters of Charity Medical Center,
located in Staten Island, New York.  We are a large department spanning 
two campuses (St. Vincent's Campus, formerly St. Vincent's Medical Center 
- and - Bayley Seton Campus - Formerly Bayley Seton Hospital.)  

We provide a full continuum of care for the mentally ill and chemically
addicted persons of Staten Island.  This includes emergency psychiatry
(our Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program [ CPEP ]), inpatient
psychiatry for adults and adolescents, outpatient services, residential
services (housing for our clients with full case management services as
well as vocational opportunities and training), ambulatory services
(`day program' services), chemical and alcohol detoxification services,
alcohol and addiction ambulatory programs, a mobile crisis unit and
numerous other services all available to the people of Staten Island.

The department of Residential Services currently has a PROGRESS database
which provides clinical charting capabilities and administrative 
functionality.  This database is being ported to PostgreSQL.  We expect
to go live 01 July 1999.

The Psych Research dept had a FoxPro database that tracked every patient
ever served at our facility - this was online 1986 - 1999.
In the past year we have migrated the FoxPro database to PostgreSQL 6.3.2.
It has been online for 9 months and has been very reliable.

Deployment followed a 6 month process of evaluating other vendors.  Sybase,
Oracle, mSQL and mySQL were all evaluated as was Empress.  The conclusion
reached was that Oracle was the best commercial database available and
that PostgreSQL was clearly the finest open source database on the market.
In comparison shopping I was the primary person testing both Oracle and
Postgres and found that Postgres compared favourably to Oracle.  The
psql interface is very similar to SQL*Plus in functionality and Postgres
offers a comparable number of built in functions.  Although Oracle possesses
some nice features not available in Postgres (for example the nvl() function)
we opted to go with Postgres for three reasons.  

1)  Compliance with ANSI standards:  Oracle seems to lag way behind here.
2)  Tech support offered by the Postgres mailing lists is superior to
    any tech support I've encountered, contracted or otherwise.
3)  The Open Source aspect of Postgres.  Although we have little cause
    to tinker with internals my shop is committed to Open Source.  In as
    much as we are publicly funded we feel it is our mandate to keep
    our code in the public domain and to use open source code whenever
    possible. 

At the same time our shop began migrating away from proprietary databases 
we began the process of moving away from proprietary Unix.  UnixWare is 
being phased out in favour of Slackware Linux and FreeBSD.  However, it has
been necessary to install PostgreSQL on UnixWare as an interim measure.
In historical terms UnixWare has been something of a white elephant and 
consequently has a counter-intuitive feel to it.  It was necessary to ask
for some technical support from Bruce Momjian, a postgres developer with
System V expertise, to get postgres installed on UnixWare.  I'm pleased
to report that the support was forthcoming and invaluable.  Submitting the
same query to PROGRESS and Postgres on the UnixWare machine is a nice way
to demonstrate another feature of Postgres - the backend is relatively
quick.  At least by comparison with a proprietary database.

At this point NR CMHC has PostgreSQL running and running well on UnixWare,
FreeBSD and Linux.  In mission critical mode.

Finally, our PROGRESS database offers a 4GL that is supposed to make writing
code easier for someone like myself:  I am not a `REAL PROGRAMMER.'  All of
my formal training has been in psychiatry and social work.  However, as a
Unix-SQL-Perl ENTHUSIAST, I was assigned the task of running our network
and the agency databases a few years ago.  Thanks to the efforts of Edmund 
Mergl who wrote and maintains the marvelous DBD::Pg module that allows me to 
use Perl (via Tim Bunce's DBI module) I have found a viable replacement for 
the PROGRESS 4GL.  Thus I've been able to step in, port existing PROGRESS
code and move our applications and data to what I feel is the best SQL
database available.

North Richmond CMHC is currently integrating all of our databases (we have
4 postgres and one PROGRESS) into an inter-unit repository of patient data.
This is an ambitious project, however, PostgreSQL is the tool that is making
it possible.  We invite inquiries on the process of migration to the
best, most advanced (an example - support for arrays) open source database
available.

Thomas Good, MIS Coordinator, North Richmond CMHC 
Member: Computer Professionals For Social Responsibility
tomg@ { admin | q8 } .nrnet.org
Phone: 718-354-5528  
Fax:   718-354-5056  


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