Open source database new engine of France’s social security

The open source database management system (DBMS) Postgresql is the new engine for France’s Caisse Nationale d’Allocations Familiales (CNAF). The organisation, responsible in 2009 for some 69 billion Euro in benefits distributed to 11 million claimants, earlier this year replaced its proprietary DBMS with the open source alternative.

According to a statement published in September by IT company Bull, assisting CNAF, the Postgresql system runs almost a billion SQL queries every day.

“Our choice of PostgreSql was not just driven by the fact that this software is open-source”, Marc Pavie, CNAF’s Deputy Director of Information Systems said earlier this week. “This is a technically rich DBMS, that included all the features we need. It has levels of performance and reliability that meet our production goals.”

However, Pavie says moving to Postgresql does allow the organisation to save costs on licences for a proprietary DBMS. “This was an opportunity to decrease our licence budget.” The deputy IT director is also confident that the open source community involved in development of Postgresql will result in increasing quality.

Migration to the open source DBMS started in 2008, Bull explains in its statement. “In total, it took 18 months to migrate the 168 databases involved, representing a total of 4 Terabytes of data.”

“Regular administrative tasks have been automated and system supervision is carried out using an open software solution, Nagios. In addition, the architecture that has been implemented features dual high-availability, with a remote business recovery site and locally based service continuity facilities.”

According to the IT company, the Postgresql RDBMS at CNAF is run on servers using Red Hat Linux. These servers are running on the company’s proprietary Novascale mainframes, allow the organisation to simultaneously continue to run its Cobol legacy applications on other partitions. source.

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