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Greenplum recently released a new version of its BI optimized DBMS, Greenplum 3 (G3). The software is based on the PostgreSQL open-source database system; proprietary extensions add support for parallel loading and query and other scalability and reliabilty features.

But with G3, Greenplum appears to be moving ever farther from the company's open-source roots. Specifically, Greenplum sponsors Bizgres, an open source, BI-optimized but non-MPP DBMS, downloadable as an April 2006 0.9 version at bizgres.org or via Greenplum's site. Later versions are available in the code repository but no later version has been packaged as a General Availability release. Note that Greenplum does, separately, contribute to core PostgreSQL development. Frankly, I wonder if/why that contribution isn't the focus of the company's open-source involvement.One patient Bizgres fan, Niranjan Sathe, posted to the Bizgres-general e-mail list, "I am waiting for Bizgres 1.0 for more than one year and already have good list of candidate implementations. But [with] open-source projects I cannot complain about release delays. If someone is really concerned, he should take it on by himself. Here, I am helpless because C/C++ programming with Postgres codebase is far different than building data warehouses!"

The Greenplum Database 3.0 Overview Guide states "Bizgres is Greenplum's single-host product that is driven directly from the efforts of Bizgres.org, a Greenplum-sponsored and community-supported open source project, the mission of which is to build a comprehensive database platform for Business Intelligence on top of PostgreSQL. As with Greenplum Database, Bizgres is based on PostgreSQL 8.2. Bizgres includes all of the features of PostgreSQL 8.2, plus enhancements and features (such as the Bizgres Loader and Workload Management) that optimize PostgreSQL for Business Intelligence applications."

Greenplum calls Bizgres their "product," but their statement about the Bizgres codebase is misleading.

According to the Bizgres project page, that April 2006 version has Beta development status. A message posted to the Bizgres-general list last April said "Bizgres update to use Postgres 8.2 codebase [from 0.9's use of the 8.1.3 codebase is] underway." So perhaps the port to 8.2.x didn't meet production standards, explaining why the Bizgres GA packagings haven't been updated from April 2006's 0.9 version.

Greenplum documentation says that G3 is based on the April 2007 PostgreSQL 8.2.4 rather than long-awaited, just-out PostgreSQL 8.3. "PostgreSQL 8.3 is an impressive new release and we encourage customers around the world to explore it" according to Sun Software EVP Rich Green, quoted in a press release, but noting that many of the key new features and fixes relate to transactional rather than analytical processing, and understanding the difficulties getting a layered product like Greenplum out the door, use of the older PostgreSQL version should not be an issue. Note that Bizgres and Greenplum DB do not share code but instead involve parallel code streams expanding on the PostgreSQL base.

PostgreSQL contributor Simon Riggs of consultancy 2ndQuadrant says that the main PostgreSQL project is working towards the same space as Bizgres. "For example in the PostgreSQL 8.3 release we

  • improved merge joins by as much as 100%,
  • improved initial data loading dramatically,
  • improved table scans by 20% through better use of CPU L2 caching,
  • reduced overall database size by 10-15% through better optimized storage layout,
  • significantly reduced the cost of optimising queries on partitioned tables."
Riggs continues, "in the next release cycle we're beginning to look at parallel dumps, load and query."

A 2006 Greenplum press release lists Riggs and representatives of other companies as Bizgres contributors. Yet Riggs is not working on Bizgres and I infer that significant Bizgres participation by companies other than Greenplum never came to pass. Further, a Greenplum employee who, according to a May 2006 press release, "will focus full-time on advancing PostgreSQL capabilities for BI and data warehousing through the Bizgres.org project," has been working on Greenplum DB and not Bizgres for over a year.

Greenplum executives did not respond to multiple requests for clarification of Bizgres status. My conclusion is that the company has left their commitment to Bizgres behind. They should not be so reluctant to admit it. Their commitment to PostgreSQL is clear and far more important. Greenplum is delivering enterprise-scale BI capabilities and contributing to the underlying open-source PostgreSQL platform. Greenplum benefits the movement, which matters far more than their having an open-source product of their own.Greenplum recently released a new version of its BI optimized DBMS, Greenplum 3 (G3). The software is based on the PostgreSQL open-source database system; proprietary extensions add support for parallel loading and query and other scalability and reliabilty features. But with G3, Greenplum appears to be moving ever farther from the company's open-source roots. Specifically, Greenplum sponsors Bizgres, an open source, BI-optimized but non-MPP DBMS, downloadable as as an April 2006 0.9 version at bizgres.org or Greenplum's site.

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