Wednesday, 17 August 2011

R is for Innovation

I'm pleased to note that Teradata just announced a plugin for the R language.

As many of you will know, PostgreSQL has supported server functions written in the R language for many years. So its good that Teradata has seen the light at last and by doing so has validated the innovations that PostgreSQL has made.

That means the list of databases that have responded directly to innovations in PostgreSQL, now extends to Oracle, Informix(Illustra), SQLServer, Sybase, DB2, Teradata. Of course, MySQL have been trying to catch up for a long time,

That pretty much is the complete set. Cool. Well, almost.

I'm intrigued as to what NoSQL vendors think will happen next. If their core values are simplicity then what new features can they add without going back on their core philosophy. Austerity isn't something you can have more of, is it? Let's wait and see what happens when the VC runs out.

PostgreSQL really is in a leadership position with regards to database innovation. And I'm happier than ever to be part of this phenomenon.


  1. > databases that have responded directly to innovations in PostgreSQL

    It would be great to see what the other platforms have adopted from PostgreSQL. As a relative newcomer, the history is interesting.

  2. History is interesting, I agree, and Database History probably even more so. I think I'll cover that in future blogs.

  3. Hi Simon,

    I'm more interested in Postgres' future than its past, personally. While Postgres is definitely innovating at a wild pace, I think there are a lot of exciting things happening outside the traditional RDMS space which are increasing developer productivity and enabling new workflows.

    What would you say are the key innovations NoSQL has brought to the space? I'd probably single out out Redis' novel approach to providing shared data structures, CouchDB's unique document/data structure storage model, and Riak's ability to provide massive scale on consumer hardware. How do we as Postgres users, developers and providers react and remain relevant in the next decade?

    If I had a dollar for every person I'd met who lamented being trapped on MySQL I think I could single-handedly fund Postgres development for years to come. Regardless of the abstraction layer, production databases are nearly impossible to port. How can we get more of the little newbies? (Encouragingly, OS X Server now ships with Postgres instead of MySQL as of the Lion release.)

  4. I'm not sure what you mean by "plugin". None of the databases you mention has, so far as I can find, anything more than two versions of database driver/connectivity: DBI (the RPostgreSQL, etc. "native" set) and the regular ODBC/JDBC set. DB2, looking at the train track fragment for CREATE FUNCTION, doesn't support R as a language. Spending some time at various R sites doesn't reveal any, either. Neither was R listed in the PostgreSQL docs I looked at. Where would one find the docs for using R as a function writing language?

    In any case, having such wouldn't be practical; R, unlike SPSS or SAS (which are pure RBAR), is a (data) memory resident program, since it implements matrix routines for solving. Teradata is the worst possible fit I can think of.

    As to NoSql and such, they've just revivified the VSAM/RBAR approach to client driven data storage/management. That's hardly an innovation.

    If you're looking for database/stat pack innovation, look to IBM/DB2. They're well on the way to integrating SPSS *into* DB2. Since SPSS has 1) always been SQL friendly, and 2) uses RBAR to solve the equations, it seems to be a good fit.