Statistics Firm Switches From Oracle To Postgres

Genscape stores energy stats in Postgres Plus Advanced Server, a relational database system with Oracle-compatible features from EnterpriseDB.

Charles Babcock

January 20, 2010

3 Min Read
Network Computing logo

Genscape, a marketer of energy industry statistics to commodities and financial traders, has implemented Postgres Plus Advanced Server in place of Oracle as the system that stores its proprietary data on the North American natural gas market.

Genscape maintains acoustic monitoring devices at major natural gas depots and underground storage chambers. By measuring the sound level of a depot's rumbling pumps and applying its proprietary algorithms, it can determine how much natural gas is being stored in the chamber.

By listening to the whine of gas passing through an open exit valve, it can estimate how much natural gas is being released into distribution pipelines. "Tone tells volume," said Steve Delaney, director of data services at Genscape, in an interview Tuesday.

The combination gives Genscape a set of near real time statistics on the movement of natural gas in the market. When Genscape combines that proprietary information with publicly available information, it has a product that is valuable to energy traders and investors in energy companies, Delaney said.

Genscape stores that information in Postgres Plus Advanced Server, a relational database system with Oracle-compatible features from EnterpriseDB. It is a commercial product based on the PostgreSQL open source code system, and makes reports available in various forms for Genscape to sell as its NatGas RT service.

Energy equity and commodities traders plug Genscape information into their models and use the results to make trades or advise investors on the market, Delaney said.

The Lousiville firm spent up to six months evaluating the alternatives and testing applications before implementing Postgres Plus Advanced Server in place of Oracle last April. In one application, a SQL statement calling for natural gas data to be updated through a particular insert method needed to be changed, as did one SQL query to allow it to perform efficiently with PostgreSQL.

GenScape uses standard SQL, not Oracle's development tools' version of the data access language, PL/SQL, explained Delaney. EnterpriseDB officials claim Postgres Plus understands both, an Oracle-compatibility feature they have built into the system.

Genscape was acquired by UK information publisher Daily Mail and General Trust for $130 million in 2006.

Genscape is still an Oracle customer, running its financial transactions on Oracle systems, as well as its information management systems for the oil, coal and electric power industries.

Delaney said he will proceed cautiously to explore other uses of Postgres Plus Advanced Server at Genscape and may use it to replace Oracle in other information storing systems.

Genscape CIO Steve Akers, in announcing the switchover Wednesday, said his firm investigated an alternative to Oracle "because of spiraling database software costs The goal was to find a database that could meet our stringent requirements and also provide a low-cost alternative to what we had been using up that point." The option of "an easy migration of existing data" prompted the Postgres Plus decision, he said.

PostgreSQL is a 15-year-old successor to the Ingres database project at the University of California at Berkeley. EnterpriseDB in Westford, Mass., is one of several companies making use of PostgreSQL open source code. Another is Greenplum with its data warehouse system.

Postgres Plus Advanced Server subscriptions are priced at $4,996 per developer per year or $4,495 per server CPU socket per year. Use on a four-way server would result in a $17,980 a year subscription, which includes technical support and maintenance.

About the Author(s)

Stay informed! Sign up to get expert advice and insight delivered direct to your inbox

You May Also Like

More Insights