Pervasive Software Inc.

12365 Riata Trace Parkway

Bldg. B

Austin, TX 78727

(800) 287-4383 x2



Pervasive Software’s Pervasive PSQL: Expert at Low-Cost, High-Performance Embedded Databases


Executive Summary

Recent years have seen a new database market formed by a distinct and growing set of users - small to midsize businesses (SMBs) and workgroups and departments within larger businesses . that Aberdeen calls "Low IT" users. These users are often not well served by databases aimed at the large data stores and large corporate IT departments of major enterprises, yet are still running applications that are critical to their business success. Increasingly, solutions developed for these markets are also proving valuable to a broader class of users employing applications that require "embedded" databases . databases operating transparently to the application user and administrator.


Aberdeen research shows that these users focus especially on performance, overall cost, and ease-of-use. They also focus on minimizing deployment and administrative resources. Aberdeen also finds that:


Administrative and maintenance costs continue to increase in importance

as a buying decision factor, and proactive, "designed-in" database maintenance is key to many successful Low-IT implementations.

Low-IT users have unique database requirements, such as "near-lights-out"

administration and minimal training costs, which enterprise data-bases in many cases cannot meet adequately.

IT buyers should therefore treat the buying of a Low-IT database as a separate purchase and consider choosing a database especially designed for Low-IT use or that can be seamlessly embedded in an application. This Profile describes Pervasive Software’s Pervasive PSQL  v11, a database specifically designed for Low-IT and embedded use, with more than a decade of experience in servicing Low-IT users.


Key Buying Criteria for Low-IT Users

For the last eight years, Aberdeen has advised enterprise-database buyers to use scalability, open flexibility, robustness, and programmer productivity as overall buying criteria. By contrast, Aberdeen recommends that Low-IT and embedded-database buyers consider the following overall criteria aside from TCO:

Performance in common Low-IT tasks, such as back-office, workgroup, and Intranet transaction processing. Although scalability is still an issue in some cases, rapid improvements in the scalability of solutions, such as Pervasive PSQL , allow them to do more than match most users’ increased

scalability demands.

Administrative ease-of-use, which not only drastically reduces Low-IT total cost of ownership (TCO), but also allows a wider range of end-users to access key SMB and departmental data because they need no administrative skills.

Minimal downtime, meaning that the operations of the embedded database should be invisible to the user. Excessive downtime is the most visible and bottom-line-affecting flaw in an embedded database.

Flexibility, which for Low-IT implementations typically means both the ability to connect to enterprise and supplier databases and the ability to easily upgrade to a new version of the embedded database.

Aberdeen finds that Pervasive does exceptionally well according to these criteria, as described below.


Technology Overview

Pervasive PSQL  v11 provides a full-fledged database engine aimed particularly at workgroup and SMB local area networks (LANs), with support for Windows 2000, Novell NetWare, and Linux LANs. Pervasive PSQL  v11 comprises Server and Work-group versions. It offers "self-tuning," near-lights-out administration, component programming support, and support for such key Low-IT standards as ODBC, JDBC, and OLE DB. Pervasive PSQL  is now complemented by Pervasive DataExchange, a replication tool especially useful for synchronization of local-office application copies in a "mass-deployment" architecture (Data Synchronization) as well as creation of almost real time "mini data marts" for access by enterprise portals (Data Portal) and low-cost disaster recovery (Data Continuity).


Pervasive PSQL  has a long-standing presence in the Novell NetWare market, where it is highly regarded. Over the years, it has extended this reputation into the Windows LAN market, and it has established itself as an effective embedded database supporting Low-IT packaged and in-house-developed applications.


Performance and Scalability

For most Low-IT users, data processing involves small to medium-sized updates similar to online transaction processing (OLTP), or "mixed" query and update processing. As a relational database with multithreading support, Pervasive PSQL  excels in OLTP. Pervasive PSQL ’s ability to support navigational data access also allows it to perform well in medium-scale querying and, therefore, in mixed situations.


Interviewees attest that recent Pervasive PSQL  versions have delivered major increases in performance over previous versions.


Pervasive PSQL  v11 adds more flexible caching and an improved optimizer, and performs better on larger datasets. Pervasive PSQL  v11’s Dynamic Cache allows the database to capture and release main memory available to a server’s operating system as the database runs. In typical Low-IT situations where an application and its embedded database must share a server with other applications, such as Microsoft Exchange, this flexibility allows much greater performance and scalability than the typical database with its assumption that the database controls all of main memory.


The optimizer adds careful fine-tuning based on long Pervasive experience with Low-IT transaction patterns. A Turbo Write Accelerator improves performance on OLTP-type transaction streams by bundling transactions for mass writes to disk.


Pervasive PSQL  v11’s row-level locking support is a long-known requirement for greater packaged-application scalability. Initial indications from end-users are that Pervasive PSQL  v11 can deliver an order-of-magnitude improvement in scalability over the previous Pervasive PSQL  version, from hundreds to thousands of end-users.


Administrative Ease-of-Use

User reports clearly indicate that Pervasive PSQL  is outstanding in this area. Pervasive PSQL  effectively handles all the administrative details that tend to trip up other Low-IT databases, such as the need to periodically reorganize the database to avoid degrading performance, automated online backup and recovery, and expanding the database as it nears its capacity. Features such as Distributed Tuning Interface for deployment (which lets the user integrate Pervasive PSQL ’s toolset within an application), Pervasive System Analyzer for component management and avoiding version conflict, the Pervasive DataExchange offering for synchronizing far-flung databases, and Pervasive Control Center for multiserver administration clearly aim at automating common administrative tasks. Auto reconnect technology ensures that users can transparently reconnect Pervasive PSQL  to a server when minor net-work problems occur.


Pervasive PSQL  v11 continues to simplify Pervasive PSQL  for the administrator, especially in the deployment area. The new version of Pervasive System Analyzer combines deployment-error reporting and suggested (customizable) solutions for reported problems. Deployment itself has been simplified, with fewer parameters for the administrator to set.


Moreover, easy-to-understand user interfaces mean that Pervasive and its ISVs receive relatively few support questions. User surveys clearly indicate that Pervasive PSQL  has drastically cut down on system problems and therefore on these support questions.


Pervasive Software’s service and support is itself comprehensive and cost-effective. It includes an award-winning Web support site, certification and training, and - for ISVs and OEMs . marketing and sales support, development resources in Pervasive Development Center, and various partnership programs.


IT buyers should also note that database design is an often-underestimated key part of both administrative and end-user chores. Pervasive PSQL  builds on a "network" approach that is well suited to representing the complex spider web of a typical design, and adds user-friendly design interfaces.


Minimal Downtime

Again, user reports indicate that Pervasive PSQL  rarely has downtime. Pervasive PSQL ’s attention to data integrity and online backup and recovery mean that some users report no downtime caused by Pervasive PSQL  alone. Transaction logging and the usual backup/recovery/roll-forward utilities provide the usual data-base features to handle system disruptions, while Pervasive DataExchange allows replication of a Pervasive database to a remote disaster-recovery site.



Pervasive PSQL  supports Server engines for Windows NT, Linux, and Novell Net-Ware, and provides connectivity to other LAN servers via its Workgroup engine. Pervasive PSQL  v11 includes extensive features to support communications with major popular enterprise databases and development toolsets, including JDBC, ODBC, OLE DB (with ADO), ActiveX controls, Java class libraries, and Pervasive Data Access Components (PDACs) that allow Borland C++ Builder and Delphi tool-sets to view Pervasive PSQL  data as objects, avoiding "object-relational mismatch." A new OLE DB provider offers higher performance for applications invoking OLEDB/ADO.


A key added feature of Pervasive PSQL  v11 is the DTI (Distributed Tuning Interface) and DTO (Distributed Tuning Object) interfaces, which allow developers to invoke key administrative features of the database engine . such as starting and stopping remote instances and gathering system statistics . an ability not typically included in other databases.


Again, user reports continue to confirm that Pervasive PSQL  upgrades involve simply upgrading the surrounding database, with no user database expertise required.


Programmer Productivity

Pervasive PSQL ’s developer support includes a SDK, including ActiveX components, Java class libraries, Borland toolset support (for Delphi and Borland C++ Builder development), and the JDBC driver. Pervasive PSQL  integrates with a wide variety of common Low-IT third-generation languages (3GLs), including Java, Perl, PHP, JSPs, and ASPs.


Pervasive’s Low-IT TCO Advantage

Pervasive’s advantages translate into exceptionally low TCO in Low-IT situations. A recent Aberdeen study found:

• Pervasive PSQL ’s advantage over Microsoft’s SQL Server continues to widen in percentage terms.

• This difference is especially due to Pervasive PSQL ’s ability to offer a "near-lights-out" administration solution, in which remote non-technical personnel often can handle any problems unresolved by the database’s automated administration tools at a large cost savings.


Specifically, the study noted:

• In all configurations, under conservative assumptions, Pervasive Software’s Pervasive PSQL  showed an average 7-to-1 superiority in VCO over the database most often cited as users’ choice in Low-IT situations, compared with an average 5-to-1 superiority in 1999.

• Pervasive PSQL ’s superiority was most marked in maintenance costs — an area that past Aberdeen research has shown is a major and increasing component of TCO in most implementations for all sizes of organizations.


However, even when Aberdeen removed maintenance costs from VCO, Pervasive PSQL  maintained at least a 3-to-1 superiority in VCO (up from 2-to-1 in 1999). Pervasive PSQL ’s users reported a sharp drop in problems because of the new versions of the databases. Pervasive users were able to employ non-technical personnel for administration frequently and across more databases (e.g., via ASPs).


• Over the two years since Aberdeen’s last assessment, Pervasive PSQL ’s VCO has decreased by approximately 55% on average — despite increasing administrator salaries.


Aberdeen Conclusions

As today’s users come to accept that no enterprise database will replace all existing databases, IT buyers should focus on applying a different database in Low-IT and embedded-database than in the data center or at the large-enterprise level. These users not only cannot afford expensive tune-ups and problem fixes, but also often cannot afford expensive database administrators — so they need good performance in workgroup and SMB situations, administrative ease-of-use, minimal down-time (scheduled or otherwise), and flexibility to support their own particular architectures and development needs.


Pervasive PSQL  is particularly attractive to SMBs and workgroups of large enterprises. and increasingly in larger organizations and at the divisional level - because of its long-proven ability to run with minimal administrative intervention — key for users who cannot afford to apply trained administrative help. For these situations, Pervasive PSQL  v11 is a natural.


To provide us with your feedback on this research, please go to www.aberdeen.com/feedback .

Aberdeen Group, Inc.

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Boston, Massachusetts



Telephone: 617 723 7890

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© 2002 Aberdeen Group, Inc.

All rights reserved

September 2002


Aberdeen Group is a computer and communications research and consulting organization closely monitoring enterprise-user needs, technological changes and market developments.  Based on a comprehensive analytical framework, Aberdeen provides fresh insights into the future of computing and networking and the implications for users and the industry.


Aberdeen Group performs projects for a select group of domestic and international clients requiring strategic and tactical advice and hard answers on how to manage computer and communications technology. This document

is the result of research performed by Aberdeen Group. It was underwritten by Pervasive Software, Inc. Aberdeen Group believes its findings are objective and represent the best analysis available at the time of publication.