Why did Salesforce.com hire a Postgress expert? A conversation with EnterpriseDB's Tom Kincaid

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Tom Kincaid, EnterpriseDB's Vice President, Products and Engineering, and I enjoyed a 30 minute conversation about Salesforce.com's recent moves to embrace the PostgreSQL open source database.  We discussed what the move towards PostgreSQL could mean.

The discussion started with the fact that Salesforce.com has hired a top PostgreSQL community contributor, Tom Lane, and the fact that late last year Salesforce.com posted a job ad for 40-50 PostgreSQL experts to help build out what was described as "core systems."  Kincaid pointed out that EnterpriseDB employs about a half dozen key contributors to PostgreSQL.

Here are a few thoughts from the discussion:

  • Salesforce.com, although a major use of Oracle's database and development software, wants to have a viable alternative. Companies that have a viable alternative can often negotiate better pricing and business terms than those who don't. Bob Young, former CEO of Red Hat, called this the "Red Hat Discount."
  • Salesforce, for strategic reasons, wants a second source for important technology. Being reliant on a single source can be the source of problems. If one source offers better technology at a specific point in time, Salesforce.com's development efforts can take advantage of that technology.
  • Salesforce.com wants to contribute to the PostgreSQL community and also to help guide the direction of the open source project.

It was a very interesting discussion. I hope I have the opportunity to speak with the good Mr. Kincaid in the future.

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