| Craig S. Mullins & Associates, Inc.
Database Performance Management
and the DBMS
By Craig S. Mullins
day of the Linux DBMS is upon us. Unless you have had your head in the
ground over the past year, you will have at least heard of Linux. For
those unenlightened few, Linux is the open source version of Unix
available for free over the Internet. A few pioneering companies also
have packaged the Linux operating system on CD-ROM and offer it with a
customer support option (for example, Red Hat and Caldera). The
computer industry’s desire to have an alternative to Microsoft,
coupled with Linux’s strong reputation for reliability, have created
an apparently strong market for Linux. But just how strong is it?
but one of the leading DBMS vendors either already have shipped a
version that runs on Linux or are working on Linux support. Of course,
the one missing DBMS vendor is Microsoft. Microsoft SQL Server runs on
Windows NT, period. And Microsoft will never develop a Linux version
of SQL Server because it would eat into Microsoft’s Windows NT
what of the other leaders, Oracle and IBM? In July both began offering
Linux versions of their stalwart products: Oracle8I and DB2 Universal
Database. You can get a free trial of the Linux version of either via
the web at:
and Sybase also offer Linux versions of their DBMS products. But with
all of the hoopla, who is actually using these products? Most Linux
users deploy the operating system to run web servers, file servers, or
e-mail servers. Relatively few production Linux servers are configured
as database servers. Why is this? Well, the first reason is obvious:
Linux-compatible DBMS offerings have only recently become available.
However, there are other concerns that may limit Linux’s popularity
for database servers.
such concern is purely economic. Ask any of the DBMS vendors how they
hope to make money on the Linux version of their product and then sit
back and wait for the doubletalk. Just how do you price a product for
a free operating system? If the user is unwilling to pay a vendor for
an operating system, arguably the most important piece of software in
their shop, then how will you convince them to shell out the big bucks
for a DBMS? Answer: you
probably won’t, at least not in the near term.
The Linux hype needs to clear and reality needs to set in. The reason to implement a Linux database server is not to save money on the operating system, but to have a reliable, scalable platform for your DBMS, today. According to IDC, 40% of Linux users in the United States use it because they believe it is more reliable than either Unix or Windows NT; only 13% implement it because of its perceived lower price.
is a good alternative to Windows NT when purchased with customer
support. No DBA worth his pay should ever implement a production
database on a Linux platform without a support contract from a Linux
provider such as Red Hat (www.redhat.com).
why should DBMS vendors support Linux versions of their products?
Supporting Linux is a wise course of action for the DBMS vendors for
the following reasons:
article has mostly concentrated on the pros of Linux. Are there any
weaknesses? Yes, of course there are. First and foremost is its
current public perception. Linux has garnered a lot of publicity
lately, but it almost always concentrates on the fact that Linux is
freely downloadable and that it is a Microsoft competitor. So, Linux
needs to have more “real world” coverage that indicates how it
performs, instead of why it is getting popular. Other possible
negatives might include:
will IT shops keep Linux up-to-date with current maintenance? This is
especially problematic if the shop did not purchase support from one
of the Linux “vendors.”
knows that there is no such thing as a free lunch, or a free operating
system. Linux is free only if your time is worthless.
is a lack of systems management tools available for Linux. When, if
ever, will systems management tool vendors provide Linux tools for
problem resolution, job scheduling, performance management, etc.
although new to the world of the DBMS, is beginning to make its mark
on corporate IT. Although not widely deployed for databases today,
Linux will increasingly be used in that capacity once its benefits in
terms of reliability and scalability are more widely understood and
recognized. Today, Linux is still thought of as “that free operating
system” by the vast majority of IT professionals. But as more and
more IT professionals must daily face the NT “blue screen of
death,” Linux will become an attractive alternative.