Ed Boyajian, President and CEO of EnterpriseDB (EDB), set an optimistic tone for Postgres Vision 2016 with an energetic morning keynote on opening day.
In his 30-minute address, Mr. Boyajian shared his perspective on the state of open source software in data management.
In particular, he described the role that Postgres is playing in the enterprise and in digital transformation, as well as the changes it is enabling.
Digital Transformation Is about Change
Digital transformation, Boyajian posited, is inevitable.
At the end of digital transformation, however, the key question is whether you will be better or whether you will you be broken.
Either way, he argues, enterprise IT executives cannot afford to wait to make changes. This is because the competitive landscape is moving quickly. In many respects, it is moving as fast as the digital landscape and the data landscape.
Examples of Transformational Change across Industries
Illustrating industry-specific disruptive innovations, Boyajian cited Spotify, which disrupted the music industry, and Lyft, which disrupted the taxi industry.
Similarly, YouTube, which Boyajian noted is becoming the second-largest search engine, is disrupting the traditional formal education industry. In fact, YouTube is becoming the de facto publishing platform for educational videos. This, Boyajian explained, illustrates how digital change is happening at a faster rate than we could have imagined.
Examples of Transformational Change with Individual Businesses
The change from digital transformation is both an industry phenomenon and an individual business phenomenon, Boyajian said.
He cited examples of digital change occurring within his company’s customers.
One such business, a leading clearinghouse of banking transactions, is using the open source Postgres database as a data hub.
In this role, Postgres pulls together all data sources for daily regulatory reporting. For example, this entails pulling data from a set of legacy databases and from new data sources.
Boyajian cited a second example of change within EnterpriseDB’s customer base.
This was a global 100 telco that is using Postgres in a new way. Namely, the company uses Postgres to rapidly stand up applications that can handle the massive launch of their new apps. It can handle hundreds of thousands of new users joining in just one hour.
IT Activity Is Moving Outside of IT
Having given concrete examples of digital transformation, Boyajian then addressed a related phenomenon important to IT executives.
Citing the 2015 Global Digital IQ Survey, Boyajian observed that one effect of digital transformation is that IT spend is moving outside of traditional IT organizations.
In 2014, the survey found that 40% of departments outside of IT made technology investments. By 2015, the figure had jumped to 68% – an increase of 40% in just one year.
In addition to technology investments, activities that were exclusively done by IT personnel are also migrating.
For instance, the development of business applications is shifting to other departments.
Boyajian described a customer in financial services and how more application development was stemming from other, non-IT departments.
The IT organization at that company, however, still holds final responsibility for all core IT assets, whether they originated within their department or not.
Build Fast or Build to Last
With digital transformation driving unprecedented change in the IT department, Boyajian reported that with IT investment and development moving outside of IT, executives in IT roles have to move fast to keep up with demand.
That speed is causing them to bump against a real-world limitation that has long plagued IT: You can build IT solutions quickly or you can build them to last, but you cannot do both.
This trade-off is particularly visible in Boyajian’s area, data management.
He described the choice IT leaders have had to make in recent years. They have had to choose between retaining and using proprietary, legacy databases, or adopting new, often open source databases.
Legacy databases readily and quickly meet immediate needs.
As Boyajian observed, legacy databases are feature-complete and well-integrated with established vendors in their ecosystem. They also have a track record that enables development of best practices.
Legacy databases are generally not, however, strong at managing new kinds of unstructured data, such as the data generated by social media.
This limits their usefulness for future data management challenges.
New, open source databases, by contrast, can meet data management needs with greater flexibility.
They include specialized options for both structured and unstructured data. This allows them to have a longer useful lifespan.
Adopting and embracing the databases, however, requires time – something stakeholders from outside of the IT department and IT leaders alike often lack.
A Different and Better Option for Database and Data Management
The central tenet of Boyajian’s keynote was this: The options for databases and data management have changed.
You can have the performance, reliability, elegance, and connectivity of legacy databases, as well as the speed, flexibility, and value of open source.
This, according to Boyajian, is because Postgres is a state-of-the-art open source database surrounded by an ecosystem of world-class technology leaders, solution providers, and best practice expertise.
That is the reason for Boyajian’s optimism. It is why, in his view, Postgres is a new solution to a long-standing dilemma: stick with the legacy database, or adopt the new database.