oConomy
June 8, 2009 by Henry Walker

postgres_vs_mysql

Today we're going to look at open source databases. Ten years ago, corporate systems like Oracle and MS Access & SQL Server dominated the landscape. Since then, MySQL and (to a lesser extent) PostgreSQL have made serious inroads into the market. The PostgreSQL vs MySQL debate is a heated one, with passionate (sometimes fanatical) communities on either side.  These two camps position themselves differently - PostgreSQL, as the world's "most advanced," and MySQL as the world's most "popular."  When exploring this topic, it will come down to a few determining factors and - in some cases - it will come down to the preference of the developer. For our purposes, we will look at the currently recorded tangible factors and let personal opinion take over after that.

The center of the debate between these two open source databases revolves around three key issues: speed, data integrity, and popularity. We'll quickly go over the basics before leaving the conversation open for your comments.

Speed

Many attest that MySQL is a much faster database than PostgreSQL, and hundreds of benchmarking websites and blogs further this notion. But as loads increase, PostgreSQL seems to win the race.  PostgreSQL has made vast improvements in recent releases, but the jury is still out....is MySQL still faster than PostgreSQL?

Data Integrity

Comparing the two on data integrity, we get PostgreSQL getting the overall nod.  Why, you ask?  PostgreSQL has always maintained a strict adherence to the academic principles of "data integrity," placing it above all else in importance.  MySQL on the other hand, started off  with a more open attitude on the matter, instead focusing on easy acceptance, increased flexiblity, and a high level of forgiveness for the average user.

Popularity

MySQL is still the world's most popular open source database, with over 50,000 downloads per day. Its accessible attitude fostered high popularity and rapid growth of the MySQL community, something its poor, nerdy brother was never able to compete with.

As the marketplace for online workteams, we can look at our own data (which happens to be stored in a PostgreSQL database) to get a sense for the two communities' sizes. As of this week there were 18,317 freelance MySQL developers and 594 open jobs on oDesk, versus only 1,239 PostgreSQL developers and 18 open jobs.  Quite a big difference!

Growth, on the other hand, appeared somewhat flat in the past 12 months for both contenders as the charts below show:

PostgreSQL Jobs on oDesk by Month

Now it's your turn to tell us what you think!  Please post your comments below...