The Effects of Open Source software on Database Usage{Comments Off on The Effects of Open Source software on Database Usage}

By Benjamin B.

Open Source is becoming the fastest way for technology to evolve and change based on what the market and users want. The premise of Open Source is that the source code of an application is available online for contributors to add to or modify. There are moderators that manage each “fork” of the software to make sure that the software is moving in the direction that the community wants, and that the code being committed to the project is quality. Moreover, if someone wants to build a version of the software a different way, they can start modifying a copy or “fork” the project and do whatever they see fit.

The popular databases, such as MySQL and Postgresql, have been open source to some degree for a long time. They also both have corporate versions and features, as MySQL is stewarded by Oracle. This has worked well for many years, as the community has been able to give back to the project, making the traditional relational table database more and more efficient with each version, and providing features that were much needed. However, sometimes a paradigm shift is required to fit the requirements that the market is demanding. Companies are sorting and using more and more data, with the performance requirements steadily increasing.

MongoDB is an open source database platform that uses a different data structure than the traditional databases, falling loosely into the NoSQL category. It uses a document based model, utilizing dynamic schemas, something that relates closely to the idea of JSON objects. MongoDB was developed to be distributed, with integrated tools to replicate, shard, and load balance both computational and storage resources (Jiang, W., Zhang, L., Liao, X., Jin, H., & Peng, Y). It was developed after a need for distributed databases for heavy computation arose in industry. MongoDB has been used in biological research application (Computers, software 5). There are, however, a number of different solutions to the similar problems. Facebook, for example, is another company that requires mass amounts of data to be processed, and they have backed a different project, Cassandra. Cassandra is a project that puts scalability and reliability as its top priorities, as Facebook has to be able to scale its services to large numbers of users while maintain constant availability. Being able to have built in redundancy, and the ability to not be bottlenecked by single points of failure means that this is a database solution that can serve similar companies who need to have availability “baked in” above all else.

So then, open source seems to be the perfect solution, right? With the ability to infinitely customize to a companies need, being offered at the low price of free, what else can one offer? The answer is support. Companies have been afraid of Open Source for a while now. In fact, Microsoft once had a “holy war (Silic, Mario and Back, Andrea 4) on Open Source platforms. The arguments can be compelling as well. Open Source platforms often do not provide enterprise level customer support, there are not always set development milestones, all due to the fact that they have been supported by the community. However, Open Source has become more and more appealing in recent years. Enterprises have backed Open Source projects and provided the much needed support and consistency that big enterprises and government agencies require. Even Microsoft has turned around on the topic of Open Source, partnering to deploy linux in its Azure cloud infrastructure, and moving to Open Source its .NET framework.

Open Source has the ability to make sure that the constantly changing needs of the industry will always be served in new and more efficient ways. The adoption of Open Source software will be expanding over time, augmenting enterprise products already in the ecosystem.


Computers, software; seven bridges genomics relies on MongoDB for next-generation sequencing analysis. (2013). Biotech Business Week, , 60. Retrieved from
Jiang, W., Zhang, L., Liao, X., Jin, H., & Peng, Y. (2014). A novel clustered MongoDB-based storage system for unstructured data with high availability. Computing.Archives for Informatics and Numerical Computation, 96(6), 455-478. doi:
Silic, Mario and Back, Andrea, “Identification and Importance of the Technological Risks of Open Source Software in the Enterprise Adoption Context” (2015). Wirtschaftsinformatik Proceedings 2015. Paper 78.