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Open Source Databases "50% Cheaper" 276

Posted by kdawson
from the when-forrester-speaks dept.
pete314 writes, "Open source databases can cut the total cost of ownership of a database by up to 60% compared to the cost of running proprietary databases from Oracle, Microsoft or IBM. According to data collected by Forrester Research, the savings average about 50%. Open source databases however still struggle to reach mission-critical enterprise applications because enterprises perceive them to be less secure and stable."
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Open Source Databases "50% Cheaper"

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  • by rubycodez (864176) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @05:58PM (#16940166)
    enterprises also want paralleling clusters and failover clusters. The open source databases are getting there, give it few more years.
    • by wiggles (30088) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @06:14PM (#16940482)
      The one place that the Open Source products have a long way to go is support. Companies don't think mysql and postgres are unreliable, they're just not backed enough. The company I work for could give a rat's hindquarters about TCO -- they just want to outsource their risk so that if something breaks, the CIO/CEO/Chairman has someone to argue with. The Chairman can play golf with Larry Ellison as he tries to get more concessions out of Oracle, but he can't play WOW with the 19 year old kid who added some bit of code to mysql.

      And before you say it, MySQL AG is still small potatoes compared to Oracle, Microsoft, or IBM.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dingDaShan (818817)
        It's true. Any person who is in an IT job does not want to risk going to an open source database (even if it saves the company money) because:
        1. He does not want to risk his job if there are problems... if there is an Oracle database, he can just use the Oracle support and tell the boss that they are using the best 2. There is no monetary incentive for the IT professional to switch. If the IT professional would see a benefit to himself that would outweigh the possible problems, there might be a switch,
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        The Chairman can play golf with Larry Ellison as he tries to get more concessions out of Oracle, but he can't play WOW with the 19 year old kid who added some bit of code to mysql.

        Wait a minute. Are you suggesting that perhaps I have the skills that many chairmen lack, which might make me unusually competitive and well-suited for the position?

      • by spun (1352)
        We have a lot of enthusiasm for open source where I work, and we wanted to move our Family and Child Tracking System off of Sybase and onto Postgress but the major stumbling block is support. We're a state agency and CYA is crucial here. We talked to several companies offering support and they have all sucked so far.
      • by msobkow (48369) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @09:06PM (#16943186) Homepage Journal

        Do you seriously think any CIO with a functioning brain cell is going to go with free unsupported software when they can't even find a single reference to such databases from any certified performance evaluation companies or organizations?

        The downtime cost of one single failure in a five year period for a mission critical system can easily run 100 times the cost of a commercial product with support. Only bean counting fools risk their entire business without properly assessed risks and disaster recovery plans.

        Not having someone to source the recovery of the smouldering crater that was your data center is a huge issue.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by plumby (179557)

        The one place that the Open Source products have a long way to go is support. Companies don't think mysql and postgres are unreliable, they're just not backed enough. The company I work for could give a rat's hindquarters about TCO -- they just want to outsource their risk so that if something breaks, the CIO/CEO/Chairman has someone to argue with.

        That's less about support and more about image.

        The quality of the support (such as likelihood of getting someone to be able to fix your DB when it's fallen over

  • 0% savings for me (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Crudely_Indecent (739699) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @05:58PM (#16940178) Journal
    For those of us who can't afford to run a commercial database package, and have been running open source databases from the beginning, this isn't news. MySQL and Postgres are your friends.
    • by Kenja (541830)
      "MySQL and Postgres are your friends."

      No, they're my bitter enemies whom I cant yet kill because they still serve a purpose.

      But one day... their uppance will come!
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by leamanc (961376)
      Which brings up a good point. How many "enterprises" need an Oracle or DB2? MySQL and Postgre, despite their obscure limitations that really only matter to ubergeeks, can work just fine for non-Fortune 500 companies. Heck, they would (and do) work fine for some of the big companies. Most of the small businesses have limited in-house IT, but usually have a guy or two that can learn PHP and tie into an open source SQL with that.

      The big boys are the only ones who need the big DB vendors, and even in that c
      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        This is where you will really see the difference. There are some people who have a valid need for Oracle. But there are also a lot of people who are paying for Oracle who could do the same thing with MySQL or PostGres. There's a lot of MS SQL Server licenses that are only being paid for because the only alternative they can think of is Access, which isn't much of a database. They don't really need SQL Server (and definitely not Oracle), but they need something more than Access. This is the market that P
    • by tcopeland (32225)
      > For those of us who can't afford to run a commercial database package,
      > and have been running open source databases from the beginning,
      > this isn't news. MySQL and Postgres are your friends.

      Right on. Those of us with over 16 million records in a PostgreSQL [blogs.com] database are pretty happy with what we're seeing. And we're willing to run the same database on production servers [getindi.com] as well.
  • by zappepcs (820751)
    Of course its that much cheaper... license fees alone are more than half of maintaining a reasonable Oracle installation... this is news? how?
    • by j-pimp (177072)
      Of course its that much cheaper... license fees alone are more than half of maintaining a reasonable Oracle installation... this is news? how?
      Does that mean the licensing fees are to expensive or the maintenance requirements are minimal?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
      The news is that someone has quantified how much cheaper the open source solutions are. Obviously, a free database costs 0% of a commercial database when you just look at buying/licensing the software, but that's not the only cost you have. This study factors in other costs of running a database, and then concludes that "open source databases" are 50% "cheaper". (Scare quotes, because I haven't RTFA, so I don't know what they are comparing with what)
  • I just don't get it. TCO and tool support are tightly linked. Most open source database products, including MySQL, seem to require quite a bit of digging and cobbling together to set up and maintain. Microsoft SQL Server has fantastic tool support, no command line experimentation required. An experienced DBA can set up a new installation in a couple of minutes. And there's even a free Express Edition available for entry-level dabbling. The cost of a database license is pretty minimal over the long h
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by sstern (56589)
      An experienced DBA can set up a new installation in a couple of minutes.

      An experienced DBA can set up MySQL with many useful tools in a matter of minutes, too. And you can pay him more because you're not paying Microsoft.

      The important question is whether you've bought an application that requires a specific database. As I look at various enterprise apps, they don't come stand-alone, but come in versions tailored for specific databases. If more people said "Do you support MySQL?" we'd see greater use. C
      • by xQx (5744)
        Funny you should say that... We use Microsoft products (ie. windows servers, MS SQL, Exchange etc.) over the open source or *NIX products because in country areas it's *MUCH* easier to find staff who understand Microsoft products.

        In small businesses when you have one person who is your network admin / systems admin / dba / tech support it is important to have products that are easy for a (skilled) tech to figure out.

        Sure, a MySQL expert can script and use the Open Source tools faster than a Microsoft Exper
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Itninja (937614)

          I'm sorry to say it -- it may be slower, but every time I want to create a database I'm going to be wanting to right click on something and select the 'create database' or 'attach database' option... not try to remember if the command is 'create database [databasename] [physcial file] [log file]' or 'create database name=[databasename] file=[physical file] log=[logfile] set recovery=full'

          Let me introduce you to a friend of mine: phpmyadmin (cost: $0)
          Then you even be sitting on your tractor out in the corn

          • use phpflashmyadmin (cost:$ 0)....

            Not to be an ass, but phpFlashMyAdmin is not $0, but $5.

          • by Acer500 (846698)
            I'm trying out MySQL's own administrator now, although admiteddly I haven't done anything besides adding a few permissions I needed:

            http://www.mysql.com/products/tools/administrator / [mysql.com]

            I still find Microsofts' Enterprise Manager to be excellent, very intuitive.

            I had to use Oracle's Java equivalent at uni a few times, and it was painfully slow and ugly (I've been told it has been re-done).
      • by Zebra_X (13249)
        "An experienced DBA can set up MySQL with many useful tools in a matter of minutes, too. And you can pay him more because you're not paying Microsoft."

        In the grand scheme of things - the amount of money that goes to MSFT is insignificant compared to the revenue of a business. 5K for SQL Server standard edition - and "free" developer tools to support the DB. Almost every other database platforms packaged tools (i.e. provided with the default install) are insufficent to effectively manage AND develop for a no
        • by LordEd (840443)

          Any reasonably proficient developer can figure it out, you also don't need a dba to tune sql server or to setup backup schedules or to create maintence plans. The traditionally cryptic dba functions are so accessible via the UI that there is really nothing to "learn" apart from knowing that you need to do X, and finding it in the menus.

          As with any Microsoft product, it is POSSIBLE to do a lot of things without full knowledge of all of the functions. However, it is always better to have knowledge of what

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by profplump (309017)
      First, if you're afraid of command-line work, you aren't running Oracle, or anything else in that class.

      Second, unless you're doing something out of the ordinary, simply installing mysql or postgres in the same way you usually install programs (be that apt-get, rpm, MS Installer, etc). is all you need to get the database up and running. The same is true of the GUI tools to manage the database -- the Windows installer for postgres includes PgAdminIII in the same package as the database itself.

      I'm not bashing
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by blaster151 (874280)
        Actually, we are running Oracle--we're a software shop and we have to support both MS-SQL and Oracle installations. Oracle just sucks, in the opinions of myself and my colleagues. Sucks in terms of the amount of workarounds to do things that MS-SQL just does automatically. I'm not afraid of command-line work, but I am afraid of wasting time. That spells death for our company and threatens what we're trying to accomplish. After years of MS-SQL use, and about one year or so of trying to mirror the same t
        • by Cyberax (705495)
          MSSQL also has a LOT of problems. For example, its pessimistic blocking system very often gets in the way.

          PLSQL is also somewhat nicer than TSQL.
    • by LWATCDR (28044)
      "Most open source database products, including MySQL, seem to require quite a bit of digging and cobbling together to set up and maintain."
      What are you talking about. MySQL can be installed by a monkey and is well documented. Often you don't even have to do anything to install it but check a box on your Linux installer.
      If you must have a GUI here http://dev.mysql.com/downloads/other/mysqlgui/ [mysql.com] is one of many.
      I am glad that you like SQL Server. If it fits your needs more power to you. However MySQL really isn
      • by chochos (700687)
        PostgreSQL has always been really easy for me to install. On Fedora, yum install postgresql-server... on Debian there are packages for postgresql server; on Windows, PostgreSQL 8.0 has an install wizard.
        Maybe it's more difficult to set up if you don't like to edit the pg_hba.conf and postgresql.conf files, but other than that...
        • Maybe it's more difficult to set up if you don't like to edit the pg_hba.conf and postgresql.conf files, but other than that...

          Editing pg_hba.conf is nothing compared to having to configure a TNS Listener instance and names files on all the clients, even with (or perhaps in spite of) the "help" of the wizard.

          PostgreSQL is an absolute breeze to install and configure.
          • by Serveert (102805)
            "TNS Listener"

            Oh god, those two words give me the shivers, now I will have nightmares.

            I love my pg_hba.conf.
    • by kpharmer (452893) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @06:23PM (#16940656)
      I actually found sql server to be quite expensive - from licensing (which was running > $80k for a 4-way on enterprise edition) to labor.

      The lack of command-line features meant that many operational activities that could be automated required a dba to manually do the job via the gui. And lets not even talk about how you had to completely recreate DTS packages when promoting them from dev to test to prod...

      So, there are labor savings that you can get on sql server vs oracle, db2, postgresql, etc - but the lack of a command line interface wasn't a driver in my experience.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Nkwe (604125)
        The lack of command-line features meant that many operational activities that could be automated required a dba to manually do the job via the gui.

        Um what do you mean about the lack of command-line features? SQL Server has only one interface and that interface is SQL text sent to it from a client. The only thing that all the GUI tools do is write SQL statements for you and send them to the SQL engine. Anything that the GUI tools can do, you can do as well from the command line (ISQL / OSQL / Query Analyze

    • > Most open source database products, including MySQL, seem to require quite a bit of digging and cobbling together to set up and maintain. Not on linux IMO. Of course if the windows port of postgres used to require, IIRC, cygwin it's not really a db fault is it? Never had problems with a couple of local and remote installation of Postgres. And the fcgi app connecting to it survives live updates of the OS and the db code. >Microsoft SQL Server has fantastic tool support, no command line experimentat
      • here's the POT version :D

        > Most open source database products, including MySQL, seem to require quite a bit of digging and cobbling together to set up and maintain.

        Not on linux IMO. Of course if the windows port of postgres used to require, IIRC, cygwin it's not really a db fault is it? Never had problems with a couple of local and remote installation of Postgres. And the fcgi app connecting to it survives live updates of the OS and the db code.

        >Microsoft SQL Server has fantastic tool support, no comm
    • by glwtta (532858)
      Most open source database products, including MySQL, seem to require quite a bit of digging and cobbling together to set up and maintain.

      Actually, that's just MySQL, the others are comparable to SQL Server as far as the complexity of a "basic" setup goes. Of course one could say that the time needed for a new installation is just not important in the long run.

      I've heard mostly good things about the newer SQL Server versions from people, unfortunately you can't use it alongside a free/open application
      • Oh, and of course for complex queries Postgres kicks SQL Servers ass, performance-wise.

        Has anyone done any tests lately to see if that is still the case? EULA be damned, post as an AC if you have to :P

        I hear SQL Server 2005 finally got MVCC and did away with row locking. Hard to believe even 2003 still locked rows for every write, but there it is. Even without that edge I'd like to believe PostgreSQL will still kick ass on complex queries, but haven't done any empirical testing against the new MSSQL engi
    • Oracle typically costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to run on an enterprise DB server like an E20K or E25K. The commercial version retails for around, if I'm not mistaken, tens of thousands of dollars per CPU (and these things can have up to 75 processors in them, though anywhere between say 8-24 is closer to what most have in them) and most companies with an Oracle DB on them are going have at least two systems.

      Microsoft SQL Server is indeed cheaper than Oracle for commercial use, but it requires you r
    • MySQL is absolutely trivial to set up; on most Linux distributions, setting it up is a single command to install the package, create the databases, install the service, and start it up.

      There are standard GUIs for administering MySQL, probably for people like you, but most people I know prefer the command line. The command line is easier even for non-DBAs, because it's far easier to write down and document what needs to be done.

      An experienced DBA can set up a new installation [of Microsoft SQL Server] in a
    • by plopez (54068)
      Postgresq installs are easier, IMO, than SQL Server installs.

      I have done mySQL, hard to get 'right' as you need set all the options right for locking and data types for example.

      SQL Server vanilla flavored installs are easy, but properly securing it, i.e., having it run as a user with lower privileges than 'System' is *hard*. You usually end up having to give it SysAdmin like powers which is wrong wrong wrong. Then there is the upgrade and patch tread mill and for any DB of any moderate size (greater than a
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by WarwickRyan (780794)
      I've had experiece with MySQL, Informix and MS SQL Server as both DBA and developer. Recently I've dabbled a little with the free version of Ingres.

      Of those, SQL Server's the easiest to use. Followed by MySQL (with phpMyAdmin), Informix (with gui) and Ingres. SQL Server and MySQL are simple enough that even someone who's not too familiar with databases (they'd still need to understand the relational model, mind) can use them.

      If you're using your database as a simple datastore, with all of the logic being
  • Half of your database expenses aren't your software.
  • by jimicus (737525) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @06:12PM (#16940448)
    Unlike a desktop PC, any serious database installation demands a serious database and at least some professional expertise, even if it's just "sysadmin of many hats, one of which happens to be dabbling in the database".

    Therefore personnel costs probably don't vary that greatly. This only leaves two costs: the application and the database itself. Generally speaking, the business will choose the application first and the database second (or they certainly should do), which means the cost (if any) of the application falls under the heading of "we've got to have it so it really doesn't much matter how much it costs, within reason".

    This leaves the backend database, assuming there's a choice in the matter (not all applications support all databases, despite SQL being nominally independent). In such a project, licensing that is about the only really variable item in the list.
    • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
      ``Unlike a desktop PC, any serious database installation demands a serious database and at least some professional expertise, even if it's just "sysadmin of many hats, one of which happens to be dabbling in the database".

      Therefore personnel costs probably don't vary that greatly.''

      Except that there may be a lower entry barrier to becoming an expert at one of the Free databases than to becoming one at a commercial database. I've worked with MySQL 3 and various versions of PostgreSQL, and, while I'm by no mea
  • by foobsr (693224) * on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @06:19PM (#16940548) Homepage Journal
    "German Lotto Company Plays it Safe with MySQL Cluster"

    http://www.mysql.com/news-and-events/news/article_ 1188.html [mysql.com]

    And their application is not critical either, just win or lose.

    CC.
  • 60% of.. (Score:2, Funny)

    by homer_s (799572) *
    So what is the cost of commercial databases? Do the math:

    Cost of OSS DB=$0 , which is 50% cheaper than commercial DBs.

    0.5 * X = $0

    X=$0

    So, commercial databases really cost $0. I'm calling Oracle to get my copy.

    (Yeah, yeah, TCO is not $0...)
  • I haven't played with much DB work in the last few years, so I'm a bit out-of-touch feature-wise. My understanding is that in terms of not losing data, PostgreSQL was better than mysql, Mysql was faster, but as the move on they're evening out on those fields.

    Is there a side-by-side comparison of major databases (including the open-source postgre, mysql) where one can see where in the featuresets each lacks/wins?
  • by kpharmer (452893) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @06:38PM (#16940924)
    This is a pretty trivial article which seems driven by ingres.

    Anyhow, a few things that I'd consider:

    1. since as the author mentions the open source databases aren't ideal for mission critical applications (yet), then many organizations will find themselves supporting multiple databases. Say, oracle for financials & crm & the corporate warehouse and postgresql for a variety of smaller projects. Makes sense in many ways - except: oracle is already free for the small databases anyway, and now you need the dbas to support multiple products. This is going to increase your labor costs - not decrease it.

    2. for many large analytical databases (data warehouses, etc) the cost of using open source are actually higher than closed source. This is because db2, oracle, etc are better at using the hardware than the open source alternatives. They've got better optimizers, parallelism, far better partitioning, better better pool management, automatic query rewrite, etc. So, a $100k oracle lisense running on a $100-200k 4-way (i know, assumes discount) will out-perform postgresql (free) on a 16-way ($1m) in many ways.

    3. for some applications mysql could be more expensive than oracle. Ok, not just because you need to do far more testing with mysql to make sure that none of the wacky silent errors are affecting your code. But also because of the odd licensing - that requires its own faq and tips to just license the product if you can't figure it out. Then there's enterprise db - not very familiar with this one, but I doubt that it is free. Meanwhile, at the low-end the big-three database vendors all support free products. So, whether or not you pay more may very well depend on how you use the software.

    Of course, if you're at a company like mine, and get to bypass purchasing and just review the license & install - you probably are saving a vast amount of money after all.
    • by glwtta (532858)
      1. Can be true - but depends on how small the "small" projects are, and how many there are. 15 small Oracle databases are going to be more work than 15 Postgres databases, even if you are already running Oracle for other stuff. Also, if there's enough work for the smaller stuff that it needs separate DBAs (even if it's just 2 total), then getting Postgres ones would not be more expensive than Oracle ones.

      2. Blatantly untrue. Oracle will scale better on multiple machines, but on a single machine Postgr
  • Anyone every take a good long look at the price difference between ibm, oracle, and MS? MS really isn't in their price league.

    "UP TO 50%". Ya, thats great, can you be a little more vague. Given that MS, Oracle, and IBM all have different prices, WHAT ONE WAS THE 50%? What conditions created that? We could include Centura SQL Base in that group and still keep the phrase up to 50%, but centura hardly breaks the 4 figure mark.

    IBM and Oracle are way more expensive than SQL Server. You want to impress me,
    • ...it was based on interviews. You'd have to read the original report for the methodology. TCO savings can be calculated by project or enterprise function. You can't dismiss the conclusion as fluff without knowing the background of the study.

      I can say on a project level OSS database products are almost untouchable on a cost basis. At least every one I've been involved in.

  • Well its obvious... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kiwioddBall (646813)
    The reason why enterprises don't like open source is because they HAVE been insecure and less feature laden. Anyone can write a database. It takes skill and $$$ however to write a secure database with enterprise features such as failover, 100% availabilty, hot backups, massive scalabilty over the planet, full support, and even more have had all these features PROVEN.

    Being nearly there doesn't cut it at all. Being proven does. I wouldn't put my multi billion $ business on the line with some piece of free
    • by Software (179033)
      I'll pay for something, and have support and a legal avenue if it falls over.
      What, precisely, are your legal options if Oracle falls over? It's pretty standard in the software world (COTS or otherwise) to disclaim liability for every type of damage known to man, and to disclaim warrants of fitness for a particular purpose.
      • Yup, good point. Usually if you are using, for example, Oracle then you have some leverage with the company though since they don't want to lose the business, and it isn't unusual in the business world to add liability clauses as a condition to winning that business. Its not all in the license.
  • ...for mission-critical operations, most people don't give a flying fuck about TCO, purchase cost, or any other cost - it's about proven & reliable track-records combined with bullet-proof support. Oh, that any high-performance scalability, fail-over clustering, and all the other things OSS databases haven't quite caught up on yet.

    Remember kids, if it's expensive - it must be good right?!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Cederic (9623)

      Except that if you chat to MySQL (the company) they'll tell you that they do have high performance scalability, fail-over clustering and all the other things. However, they're also keen to charge you a licence fee for that stuff, and support costs at the level you'd expect for qualified professional support staff.

      So TCO pretty rapidly does become an issue.

      Oracle lost a sale to us because despite having a product that would give us far better performance the TCO argument didn't work out. Frankly we'd rather
  • It says that the 50% only applies to databases of sizes 200GB and less. Well guess what? Not only is my companies systems 24x365, but we have 1+ trillion rows of data, spread out over 1000 tables. 200GB? I have that in less than 10 tables!

    And that is just the mainframe. Now add up all the UDB and SQLserver databases, and we probably have another 500 million rows spread out over those systems.
  • I'd so love to choose the db. But noooo.
    "Here's the COBOL manual." "Whut?" "We don't have a license for Fortran anymore. Oh, and we're behind on the documentation because we were going to migrate to ."
    So OK, that was the worst example. Where ever I go, I always encounter legacy databases that have to be worked with. That and an Access 'thing' lovingly setup and maintained by dr. Clueless which managed to wurm itself into the production process.
  • ...for that 40-60% you give up something.

    How much you give up depends on your needs of course. It still leaves plenty of competitive space for commercial products however. Is support, higher end functionality, and formalized business practice worth paying 40-60% more for? In many cases it will be. It remains up to the vendor to make the case. Is their higher end functionality really "higher end"? Is their support good enough to justify it's cost? Is that corporation surrounding your purchase adding v
  • by davidbrit2 (775091) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @10:39PM (#16944198) Homepage
    If the cost difference we're talking about here is simply the licensing/upgrading cost, it's worth noting that several of the popular "mega expensive" database platforms offer free (as in $0) versions - albeit with certain functionality removed.

    Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Express Edition [microsoft.com]
    Only supports databases up to 4GB, and is lacking the built-in task scheduler, and most of the high-availability and business intelligence features, but is perfectly usable for small-to-mid-sized applications/web sites. Plus you can upgrade later to one of the fancier versions if necessary.

    Oracle 10g Express Edition [oracle.com]
    I haven't had a chance to play with this yet, but it looks similar to SQL Server Express in terms of features and limitations.

    IBM DB2 Express-C [ibm.com]
    I don't really know anything about this one. I just now found it in a fit of "I wonder..." The product comparison pages don't really say much about it, but they'll send it to you free on a DVD, so that's pretty neat.

    Sybase ASE Express [sybase.com]
    Never used this one either. It seems to be only for Linux.

    Though honestly, from what I've seen of Postgre, I'd almost think that one would be worth looking into more so than these for small systems. One of these days I'll get around to experimenting with it. The advantage with the Express Editions is, however, that you don't have such a nasty learning curve if you can just jump right in with a database platform you're familiar with from at work. Why else would I do something insane like running php + MS SQL Server? :)

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