Organizations are struggling to analyze an unprecedented flood of structured and unstructured data from a variety of sources such as social media, cell phones and the Internet of Things, along with traditional systems of record. Structured data includes relational databases, legacy application files and spreadsheets, while examples of unstructured data include text, social media, emails, videos, images, and machine-generated data. Databases for structured data may be referred to as SQL (structured query language), and databases for unstructured data are called NoSQL (Not SQL).

We’ve all heard the “there are no guarantees” and “nothing is free.” But what if I told you that, when it comes to data platform challenges in the data center, you could get both a guarantee on your database performance and that your database would be free? While “What’s the catch?” may be your response, the fact is that open-source software together with an open platform makes this claim a reality.

Open-source databases were once viewed as not being ready for primetime in the data center. Compared to commercial databases, they were seen as lacking the enterprise-class features, tools, support and compatibility that mission-critical applications required. Performance and scalability were also concerns about using open-source instead of commercial solutions, along with database management and vendor support. However, this is no longer the case, as the technology around open-source databases has really matured, and these solutions are now growing in the enterprise data center.

So how do these open-source solutions work? You don’t have to buy open-source databases, and there is no licensing fee for the software, which is why it is considered free. Instead, you pay for technical expertise in the form of support from companies that offer commercial versions of the software built from the open-source databases.

Open-source databases are ideal for new applications or projects, rather than to replace commercial databases. Among these open-source solutions are MariaDB and PostgreSQL for relational databases, and MongoDB, Redis and Neo4j for NoSQL databases. MariaDB supports some of the busiest websites, and is included as a default in the major Linux distributions—Red Hat, SUSE and Ubuntu. EDB Postgres is a commercially supported version of PostgreSQL, and is an alternative for new structured data workloads. MongoDB is a document database with use cases for catalogs and the Internet of Things. Redis is a fast, in-memory database for unstructured data. All of these solutions reduce licensing costs compared to commercial databases.

IBM’s open hardware platform, OpenPOWER, helps easily blend new technologies into existing architectures. Additionally, MariaDB, PostgreSQL, MongoDB, Redis and Neo4J are all optimized to take advantage of the OpenPOWER architecture. Learn all about OpenPower LC servers here, and discover how your business can benefit from open technology!

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