SQL and Portability

Filed under Software Architecture, SQL

There’s an interesting discussion going on at SQL Server Central about applications and database portability.

The question thrown out was “How valuable is portability to your application”.

And by portability, they’re referring to portability across different database backends. Can your app run on Oracle, SQL Server, MySQL, etc, or do you just lock down to a specific vendor, and sell to your apps strengths and not DB portability?

It’s an interesting question and from the responses so far, it would seem that DB portability is a 4 letter word. But I think many of the responses are a little short sighted or limited to the DBA/developer perspective.

There is one comment saying something along the lines that an app this company purchased was DB agnostic and was found to contain no where clauses. Now that may have been an exageration to make a point, but I’d argue that an app like that was poorly architected from the outset. The fact that it performs poorly would seem to have less to do with being DB agnostic and more to do with just poor coding/architecture. My guess is, if you looked past the DB code in that app, you’d find a lot more to dislike as well.

The bottom line in any business is 1) The customer is always right and 2) you have to sell the product you have in order to make the product you want to sell.

Now, as to part 1, I’m not saying you can’t educate the customer, but in the end, if they really want Oracle as their backend, there may be some business reasons for that that you can’t sell around. And if the IT shop of that customer is centered on Oracle, good luck going in with a SQL Server based app.

I suppose it’d be nice if every shop was an IBM sized house that could hire DBAs specifically to design and support the backends for every reasonable DB, but most shops don’t have those kinds of resources.

In small shops, it’s all about leveraging code as much as possible.

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