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Which Open-Source Database?

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I’m an open-source database consultant. But which open-source database? Well, several of them.

I made the decision several years ago to take every opportunity to work with multiple databases. Why?

  1. Learning a new language teaches you more about your own. For example, taking time to understand sstables in Cassandra gave me more insight into how storage works in MySQL. Having these experiences across multiple databases forced me to question what I knew about internals, therefore deepening my understanding overall.
  2. Traveling exposes you to new ideas. Database products have unique communities. Along with this comes vastly different ecosystems, as those communities have built tools to reflect how they think about managing a database. With broad exposure, I’ve been inspired to adapt existing tools to work with new systems.
  3. The best tour guide understands you and where you’re going. Migration projects are often led by a technologist who understands the destination database very well, but it’s a huge benefit to have a translator who understands both the source and the destination. For example, anyone can read a manual to find out the different datatypes available for timestamps. But do they know exactly which date/time field is best for your data in both SQL Server and Postgres, and how to move between these without losing granularity?
  4. Most places are more multicultural than you imagine. Enterprise companies never have just one database system. They support a variety of databases for different use cases, as well as continue to maintain legacy systems. They may have a mainframe DB2 system plus EDB plus MySQL, and be in the middle of evaluation of MongoDB. Investment in a database consultant pays off when they can help you integrate a complete data flow.
  5. Investing in a rich journey leaves you with a full toolbox. Finally, the adage about all problems looking like a nail if you only have a hammer… It’s true that most databases systems can be made to work fine for most cases. But as a database consultant with a variety of tools available, I can help you choose the right system that minimizes customization effort, while balancing a need to minimize operational cost.

This was the kind of database consultant I intended to be — providing value to engineering teams by guiding them to the right system, helping them architect the most performant database solution, and enabling them to manage it easily long-term. If having an advisor like this on your team would help you, contact me for a conversation.

Author: Valerie Parham-Thompson

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