PostgreSQL vs Oracle: 6 Critical Differences


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PostgreSQL is an Object-Relational Database Management System that focuses on SQL compliance and extensibility. This Open-Source Relational Database supports both JSON & SQL querying and serves as the primary data source for numerous mobile, web, geospatial, and analytics applications. Oracle has established itself as one of the largest vendors of RDBMS (Relational Database Management System) in the IT market since its inception. The query language that can be used to access data in Oracle’s relational databases is SQL.

This article covers the PostgreSQL vs Oracle discussion keeping in mind 6 crucial factors to help you decide between the two. These factors can serve as yardsticks to help you make an educated decision regarding the best tool to leverage for your needs.

Table of Contents

What is PostgreSQL?

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PostgreSQL is widely known for its Open-Source platform that supports all features of RDBMS. It also provides an array of features on top of RDBMS features like indexes, stored procedures, views, triggers, and atomicity features to name a few.

PostgreSQL runs on various major platforms like Windows, Linux, macOS, and UNIX to name a few. Concurrency is managed by PostgreSQL through Multi-Version Concurrency Control (MVCC). MVCC provides each transaction a “Database Snapshot” that allows changes to be made without impacting other transactions. This ensures the maintenance of ACID principles while doing away with the need to read locks.     

What is Oracle Database?

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Oracle offers a multi-model Database Management System popularly leveraged for Data Warehousing, Online Transaction Processing, and mixed database workloads. Oracle database runs on various major platforms like Linux, UNIX, Windows, and macOS. The Oracle database was the first database designed for Enterprise Grid Computing, which is the most cost-effective and flexible way to manage information and applications.

Enterprise Grid Computing develops large pools of industry-standard servers and modular storage. This type of architecture allows a new system to be swiftly provisioned from the pool of components. Since capacity can be easily relocated or added from the resource pool as needed, peak workloads are not required. It differs from the other types of computing through provisioning and virtualization.

Grid Computing aims to solve a few common problems faced by Enterprise IT by producing more resilient and lower-cost operating systems. This style of architecture allows Oracle to deliver a comprehensive database at a lower cost with greater flexibility and a higher quality of service. Oracle delivers on-the-grid computing functionality to focus on providing its users with centralized management, robust security infrastructure, universal access, and powerful development tools.    

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Before diving into the differences between PostgreSQL and Oracle, you need to understand the different types of Database Management Systems. There are two types of Database Management Systems: Open-Sourced and Proprietary systems.

Open-Source Software: Open-Source software refers to software that can be downloaded for free. You can also modify the source code of the database technology here. Open-Source software relies on an active community of developers and users who can help the software’s functionality and check the code for bugs among other things. You have greater flexibility here since you can customize open-source software in line with your unique business needs, and have access to a vast array of community-based development resources.   

Proprietary Software: Closed-Source software refers to software whose source code is inaccessible to everyone except the authorized parties and developers. You might have to pay a license fee to leverage closed-source software in your workforce. Closed-Source software offers less flexibility compared to Open-Source solutions but it compensates through premium support options for extensive training, emergencies, documentation resources, stability, and enterprise-grade security.  

Understanding the Key Differences between PostgreSQL and Oracle

When you study PostgreSQL vs Oracle Database Management Systems, the primary difference between the two is that PostgreSQL is an Open-Source Database Management System while Oracle is a proprietary Database Management System. Oracle is a licensed commercial RDBMS while PostgreSQL’s development is being carried out by volunteer developers worldwide for free.

PostgreSQL and Oracle both utilize similar concepts like indices, schemas, etc. but branch out in areas like support and replication. Here are a few factors you can use to assess the best tool for your specific needs:

PostgreSQL vs Oracle: Functionality

PostgreSQL and Oracle both focus on high availability in terms of functionality. PostgreSQL provides four levels of transactions: Read Committed, Read Uncommitted, Serializable, and Repeatable Read. However, the number of transactions per second provided by PostgreSQL is less than Oracle DB. Both PostgreSQL and Oracle are ACID compliant. This also means that due to its technical superiority Oracle trumps PostgreSQL in terms of productivity.

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PostgreSQL vs Oracle: Scalability

PostgreSQL databases are developed to accommodate any volume of data. Its cluster-based storage solutions allow for immense expansion. PostgreSQL allows you to foster integrity during the scalability operations with WAL files that have a 16 MB limit. With Oracle, you can maintain data integrity with redo logs. The Oracle Database offers four sockets in its standard edition for scalability but as the workload increases, you need to purchase the enterprise edition which might be a tad expensive. The scalability support offered by PostgreSQL on the other hand is available free of cost. This means in terms of scalability PostgreSQL trumps Oracle owing to its open-source characteristics.  

PostgreSQL vs Oracle: Scalability
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PostgreSQL vs Oracle: Support

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The customer support for Oracle can be availed at a cost. The cost is almost a fourth of the license cost and increases by 3-5% annually. Compared to this, PostgreSQL offers customer support for free, but it takes time to resolve an issue since it is carried out by the developer community itself. The developer community actively offers free online support through blogs, code, emails, and other channels. You can also avail the help of paid customer support, backed by PostgreSQL professionals, which will cost less than Oracle support. Apart from this, you can also avail of third-party support, like 2nd Quadrant and Enterprise DB. Oracle however does offer its users emergency phone support which is missing in PostgreSQL support.  

PostgreSQL vs Oracle: Replication and Compatibility

PostgreSQL ensures high availability through streaming replication. Oracle ensures high availability through DataGuard. PostgreSQL supports the Master-Slave model for replication that provides impeccable performance during task allocation, backup, and clustering. Oracle supports both the Master-Slave and the Master-Master model. PostgreSQL supports a much larger group of APIs as compared to Oracle, which makes PostgreSQL more compatible with many add-ons, SQL environments, and applications. Both PostgreSQL and Oracle provide ORM framework support along with ODBC, JDBC, OLEDB, and .NET library support. 

PostgreSQL vs Oracle: Replication
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PostgreSQL vs Oracle: Compatibility
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PostgreSQL vs Oracle: Security

PostgreSQL allows users to set permissions by offering inherited roles and extra access controls through SE-PostgreSQL. It also supports native SSL that helps encrypt server communications. Oracle offers more robust security features compared to PostgreSQL. It provides excellent isolation solutions between independent key encryption management and pluggable databases. For more advanced security options, you would have to opt for higher-cost editions like auditing and monitoring to name a few.   

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PostgreSQL vs Oracle: Pricing

PostgreSQL allows you to avail all features for free since it is an Open-Source platform. The price of acquisition and product support for the Oracle database is considerably high. For every extra feature, you incur a price which makes the total cost of ownership for the Oracle database incredibly high.  

PostgreSQL vs Oracle: Pricing
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Here is a summary of the differences between PostgreSQL and Oracle:

PostgreSQL vs Oracle Sumary
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This article talks about Postgres vs Oracle Database Management Systems in great detail highlighting 6 key factors namely scalability, support, replication, functionality, security, and pricing that you can keep in mind before deciding which one suits your specific needs best. 

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Content Marketing Manager, Hevo Data

Amit is a Content Marketing Manager at Hevo Data. He enjoys writing about SaaS products and modern data platforms, having authored over 200 articles on these subjects.

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