PostgreSQL Features and Functionality

By Jim Mlodgenski  |  Posted 2010-10-21 Print this article Print

PostgreSQL features and functionality

PostgreSQL is billed as the most advanced open-source database in the market-a reputation it has built through decades of development. As a full-featured, open-source relational DBMS (RDBMS), PostgreSQL boasts many characteristics designed to support high-transaction, mission-critical applications.

The core strength of PostgreSQL is to safely and securely hold the data it manages. This starts with controlling connection access to the database through the use of enterprise authentication mechanisms such as LDAP or Kerberos. Once authenticated, all communication to the database can be over a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) connection for highly secure environments.

When adding or modifying data, PostgreSQL enforces a number of constraints defined by the user to ensure data quality according to business rules. This ranges from simple check constraints to more complex foreign key checks. Once the data is stored on disk, the ability to back up and, more importantly, restore from a disaster is critical. PostgreSQL has a simple online backup facility that works in conjunction with a strong Point-In-Time Recovery (PITR) mechanism, providing administrators with the flexibility to quickly recover from a loss.

For example, the core architecture of PostgreSQL allows for other community groups to build more advanced features into PostgreSQL through add-on modules. A perfect example of this is PostgreSQL's geospatial support. This functionality comes from a module called PostGIS, a simple extension to PostgreSQL that arguably makes it the strongest spatial, open-source or commercial database.

Another extension to PostgreSQL is the ability to have many different types of stored procedure languages. This allows developers to build server-side code using the best language for their needs. For example, a trigger that needs to perform complex text processing can be written in Perl in order to utilize its strong regular expression functionality.

Jim Mlodgenski is Chief Architect at EnterpriseDB. Jim is one of EnterpriseDB's first employees, having joined the company in May 2005. Over the years, Jim has been responsible for key activities such as sales engineering, professional services, strategic technology solutions delivery and customer education. Prior to joining EnterpriseDB, Jim was a partner and architect at Fusion Technologies, a technology services company. For nearly a decade, Jim developed early designs and concepts for Fusion's consulting projects, and specialized in Oracle application development, Web development and open-source information architectures. He can be reached at

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