Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Why would anyone want to buy a commercial JDBC driver?

In all the projects that I worked on over the last 5 to 6 years, nobody even thought about using a commercial JDBC driver. When I started on J2EE development you had to buy a JDBC driver for MS SQL server. This was around 2000-2001 when Microsoft didn't have an implementation.

We bought a driver from i-net software (Opta if I remember correctly) which I guess was the best commercial driver available at that time. Later on the application was ported to Oracle and we were happy to use the Oracle thin driver instead of bothering to buy another commercial implementation.

Since then I have worked for several big enterprise clients, developing Java web applications that connected to Oracle, MS SQL Server and DB2 (ver 7.2) databases. All these applications were using the database vendor provided drivers and all was well except for the DB2 driver (net driver).

I used to visit i-net software web site frequently as their Crystal Clear reporting tool was used in some earlier projects. Today I stumbled upon their site again after a long time and I started wondering why no one even considers using commercial drivers anymore including myself.

I could think up of a few possible reasons to shell out few bucks for a JDBC driver.

1. Performance
2. Reliability
3. Available features (JDBC 3.0, XA support etc...)

Now if we take Oracle thin driver and the above list, I don't see how a third party driver can provide significant performance and reliability over the thin driver.

As for features, thin driver has every thing you would need on an average project. Commercial implementations usually have few additional bells and whistles (e.g. i-net Opta driver supports SSL encryption and implements JDBC 4.0 API) which usually are not that important.

I guess same could be said for the SQL Server drivers from Microsoft and hopefully the new DB2 drivers from IBM, that is they does the job for your average project.

Also given the fact that application servers like BEA Weblogic includes its own drivers for all major databases including SQL Server, DB2, Sybase and Informix, I really don't see a reason to buy a JDBC driver from a third party.

Having said that, I would love to know about instances where a commercial driver was used and the reasons behind it.

P.S. Elaborating on the issue with the older DB2 driver:

DB2 v7.2 didn't come with a type 4 JDBC driver and we had to use what was called the net driver. There was this funny problem where it failed to see some records in a table. Select queries would not return these records when connected through the net driver. We never figured out why and only solution was to delete the record and insert them back. Luckily for us it only happened in the QA server :). Anyhoo the database was upgraded to DB2 version 8 and the driver to the type 4 version that came with it.

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Anonymous said...

Because the Oracle supplied drivers are horribly buggy?

Alex said...

I posted some comments on my blog at Pure Danger Tech.

pushpa verma said...
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