1. How well does the open source code youre considering match up with your existing environment?
If you are considering Linux, do you run IBMs AIX or Sun Microsystems Solaris Both have been geared to run Linux applications. If you need speed of networking and special security features, FreeBSD or a commercial version from Berkeley Software Division might be a better bet.
2. Does the open source code follow standards?
Are they the ones you want to implement? As a rule, open source code "is based on standards," said Apache Digitals lead developer Brian Behlendorf, but you should still ask. What level of Structured Query Language (SQL) compatibility does it support -- entry level, intermediate or high level? What level of Java compatibility -- such as Java 2 Enterprise Edition or Java Database Connect drivers --are in the code? The NuSphere version of MySQL, for example, contains Type 4 JDBC drivers, said Britt Johnston, chief technology officer at NuSphere.
3. How strong a community continues to work on and support the code?
Some database projects succeed and others wither on the vine for lack of developers. How vibrant and active is the newsgroup associated with a project? It may be your chief source of support, said Robert Strickland, CEO of Web site developer Xperts.
4. How hard is it to migrate to the open source system from your existing system?
If you have built Web server applications for your database in Perl or other open source scripting languages, they will migrate easily to an open source database, said John Sudderth, senior computer scientist at Computer Sciences Corp.
5. Does the open source scripting language you want to use have a connector to your existing database systems?
Apaches mod_perl module contains a connector to Oracle that recognizes Oracle extensions to SQL, called PL SQL, Johnston said.
6. What features does your open source database system offer?
Most have backup and recovery features, but replication -- where the database is reproduced and periodically updated to a distributed location -- is still lacking.
7. Do development tools matter to you?
Many commercial packages of open source code come with development tools. Lutris Technologies, for example, adds Sun Microsystems Forte for Java and Borlands Jbuilder tools to its Enhydra application server.