Re: Report from MYGOSSCON

From: "Kevin Grittner" <Kevin(dot)Grittner(at)wicourts(dot)gov>
To: "Chris Travers" <chris(dot)travers(at)gmail(dot)com>, "pgsql-advocacy" <pgsql-advocacy(at)postgresql(dot)org>
Subject: Re: Report from MYGOSSCON
Date: 2011-11-30 15:55:40
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Chris Travers <chris(dot)travers(at)gmail(dot)com> wrote:

> 3) How does PG compare to Sybase?

We converted to PostgreSQL from Sybase. We found:

(1) PostgreSQL is more stable. We had been having a lot of
problems with Sybase crashing on us with unexplained segfaults.

(2) PostgreSQL has better support. In spite of paying hundreds of
thousands of dollars per year for a support contract with Sybase,
they were very slow to fix bugs. Our runtime environment is unusual
enough that we shook out some corner case bugs in PostgreSQL during
our first few months, but every time we reported a bug we got prompt
attention and were always *running with a fix* within 24 hours!
Getting a bug fix from Sybase usually was on a time-frame of weeks
or months, depending on severity.

(3) PostgreSQL is faster. We had duplicate machines with identical
(replicated) databases, so we could compare side-by-side. I have to
be careful here, because the Sybase license prohibits posting any
benchmarks of their product that they haven't approved by them in
writing in advance. (I wonder why they include that in their
license agreement?) I'll just say that PostgreSQL beat the pants
off of Sybase in latency while load-balancing equally between the
two with identical databases on identical hardware in production.
PostgreSQL also performed better in all our saturation tests. And
that was on PostgreSQL version 8.0. PostgreSQL performance has gone
through dramatic improvements in several releases since then, and
will again when 9.2 is released next year. I haven't heard anything
about similar improvements in Sybase performance since then.

(4) PostgreSQL is easier to manage. Managing 100 production
databases and 100 development databases under Sybase we had needed
one full-time person just to manage and check backups, and had still
had problems with Sybase backups. Under PostgreSQL we were able to
script our backups such that we are immediately alerted if
incremental backups are failing to copy or failing to apply to the
base backup. The "redundancy specialist" we needed for Sybase has
been reassigned to other duties. So on the "total cost of
ownership" equation, we found lower staff costs with PostgreSQL,
besides the, um, significantly lower license and support costs.

(5) PostgreSQL is more standard-compliant. We coded to the
standard and had a thin portability layer in our framework, and
found the lines of code needed to map the standard code to
PostgreSQL was less than half that needed to map to Sybase.

(6) PostgreSQL has more features. There are so many nice features
available in PostgreSQL (for example, the text search features),
that we have decided to move from focus on database independence to
taking advantage of these features.

(7) PostgreSQL is extensible. We have added features to PostgreSQL
which required the addition of a separate layer with Sybase. The
flexibility is dramatic -- I'm reluctant to try to illustrate it
with an example, because it wouldn't do it justice.

The fact that there is a free community version (which is what we
use in the Wisconsin Court System) is the icing on the cake. In my
view, PostgreSQL is just better than the alternatives. I can speak
to the comparison with Sybase more directly than most alternatives,
but I've worked with and reviewed other products, too. I just don't
see why anyone would want to use any of the other products when
PostgreSQL is so much better.


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