Open Source Database Technologies

Open Source Database Technologies

Emmanuel Udoh (Sullivan University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-014-1.ch150
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Abstract

The free or open source software (OSS) movement, pioneered by Richard Stallman in 1983, is gaining mainstream acceptance and challenging the established order of the commercial software world. The movement is taking root in various aspects of software development, namely operating systems (Linux), Web servers (Apache), databases (MySQL), and scripting languages (PHP) to mention but a few. The basic tenet of the movement is that the underlying code of any open source software should be freely viewable, modifiable, or redistributable by any interested party, as enunciated under the copyleft concept (Stallman, 2002) This is in sharp contrast to the proprietary software (closed source), in which the code is controlled under the copyright laws. In the contemporary software landscape, the open source movement can no longer be overlooked by any major players in the industry, as the movement portends a paradigm shift and is forcing a major rethinking of strategy in the software business. For instance, companies like Oracle, Microsoft, and IBM now offer the lightweight versions of their proprietary flagship products to small—to-medium businesses at no cost for product trial (Samuelson, 2006). These developments are signs of the success of the OSS movement. Reasons abound for the success of the OSS, viz. the collective effort of many volunteer programmers, flexible and quick release rate, code availability, and security. On the other hand, one of the main disadvantages of OSS is the limited technical support, as it may be difficult to find an expert to help an organization with system setup or maintenance. Due to the extensive nature of OSS, this article will only focus on the database aspects. A database is one of the critical components of the application stack for an organization or a business. Increasingly, open-source databases (OSDBs) such as MYSQL, PostgreSQL, MaxDB, Firebird, and Ingress are coming up against the big three commercial proprietary databases: Oracle, SQL server, and IBM DB (McKendrick, 2006; Paulson, 2004; Shankland, 2004). Big companies like Yahoo and Dell are now embracing OSDBs for enterprise-wide applications. According to the Independent Oracle Users Group (IOUG) survey, 37% of enterprise database sites are running at least one of the major brands of open source databases (McKendrik, 2006). The survey further finds that the OSDBs are mostly used for single function systems, followed by custom home-grown applications and Web sites. But critics maintain that these OSDBs are used for nonmission critical purposes, because IT organizations still have concerns about support, security, and management tools (Harris, 2004; Zhao & Elbaum, 2003)
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Introduction

The free or open source software (OSS) movement, pioneered by Richard Stallman in 1983, is gaining mainstream acceptance and challenging the established order of the commercial software world. The movement is taking root in various aspects of software development, namely operating systems (Linux), Web servers (Apache), databases (MySQL), and scripting languages (PHP) to mention but a few. The basic tenet of the movement is that the underlying code of any open source software should be freely viewable, modifiable, or redistributable by any interested party, as enunciated under the copyleft concept (Stallman, 2002) This is in sharp contrast to the proprietary software (closed source), in which the code is controlled under the copyright laws.

In the contemporary software landscape, the open source movement can no longer be overlooked by any major players in the industry, as the movement portends a paradigm shift and is forcing a major rethinking of strategy in the software business. For instance, companies like Oracle, Microsoft, and IBM now offer the lightweight versions of their proprietary flagship products to small—to-medium businesses at no cost for product trial (Samuelson, 2006). These developments are signs of the success of the OSS movement. Reasons abound for the success of the OSS, viz. the collective effort of many volunteer programmers, flexible and quick release rate, code availability, and security. On the other hand, one of the main disadvantages of OSS is the limited technical support, as it may be difficult to find an expert to help an organization with system setup or maintenance. Due to the extensive nature of OSS, this article will only focus on the database aspects.

A database is one of the critical components of the application stack for an organization or a business. Increasingly, open-source databases (OSDBs) such as MYSQL, PostgreSQL, MaxDB, Firebird, and Ingress are coming up against the big three commercial proprietary databases: Oracle, SQL server, and IBM DB (McKendrick, 2006; Paulson, 2004; Shankland, 2004). Big companies like Yahoo and Dell are now embracing OSDBs for enterprise-wide applications. According to the Independent Oracle Users Group (IOUG) survey, 37% of enterprise database sites are running at least one of the major brands of open source databases (McKendrik, 2006). The survey further finds that the OSDBs are mostly used for single function systems, followed by custom home-grown applications and Web sites. But critics maintain that these OSDBs are used for nonmission critical purposes, because IT organizations still have concerns about support, security, and management tools (Harris, 2004; Zhao & Elbaum, 2003).

Undoubtedly, the OSDB initiative plays a major role in the IT world, but the expressed concerns about its adoption are the internal IT operations issue of every company. Some companies have successfully integrated OSDBs by using in-house expertise and support. It is therefore incumbent on every company to determine the cost-effectiveness of OSDB adoption before embracing such systems. Furthermore, MySQL database is currently equipped with several features that facilitate the integration with other information systems such as legacy systems and existing software applications. Notably, MySQL converts and imports other databases using a migration toolkit or workbench. This is a powerful framework that supports the migration of several systems with proven methodology.

Key Terms in this Chapter

State: HTTP is stateless in that the Web server does not keep the status of any client communicating with it. When by design this status is kept, then there is a state between the client and the server.

Desktop Database: This is a database that is primarily designed to stand alone on a desktop or a PC for a single user. Microsoft Access and FileMaker Pro are good examples.

Service Oriented Architecture: This is a form of software design that allows different applications to interact in business processes regardless of specific technology like programming languages and operating systems.

Server-Based Database: It is a multiuser database that is designed to be hosted on a server instead of a desktop.

Three-Tier Architecture: This is a conceptual model for a Web database application that has at its base the database tier (with database management system), then the middle tier (hosting the application logic), and finally the client tier (usually the browser).

LAMP Framework: It represents a structure and business strategy that supports the combined use of four OSS packages in Web development, namely the Linux operating system, the Apache Web server, the MySQL database, and either the PHP, Perl, or Python scripting language.

Open Source Database: The underlying code of the database, like any other open source software, is freely viewable, modifiable, or redistributable by any interested party, as opposed to a proprietary one that is controlled under copyright laws. Examples of open source databases are MySQL, Firebird, and MaxDB.

Web Application (Webapp): This is a term coined to represent a networked application on an Intranet or Internet that is accessible through a browser.

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