Epix Systems Ltd
Location: Stockport, England
Business sector: Software Development
Epix Systems write job control, mobile working, callcentre and purchasing software for construction, maintenance and service management companies. We produce fully hosted back office web applications written in a variety of languages, and disconnected mobile applications for Android and Windows Mobile.
We have been providing systems since 1991 and specialise in delivering enterprise-grade solutions to companies of all sizes - from single user to 400 user systems.
Usage of Firebird
We were hooked on Interbase in the 90s and inevitably migrated to Firebird as it rose from the ashes. Firebird was our first introduction to Open Source and Free software - and launched us into a world of Linux from which we have never looked back.
Our typical installation supports up to 6 customers on a single dual core server, usually serving about 20,000 dynamic pages an hour to 100 users, with regular connections from 300 mobile engineers. Supported database sizes range from 100MB to 16GB, and the response times for the dynamic pages rarely exceeding 1s.
In 2001 and 2002 we were the maintainers of kinterbasdb - the python package that implements the database API to access Firebird.
Why we use Firebird
Performance: We have been able to drive databases with 30+ million rows in a regularly accessed table on commodity hardware. This allows us to deliver fantastic response times whilst keeping costs down. Firebird's sensible use of resources means we can host multiple systems on a single processor and be confident that they will share memory and CPU cooperatively so that all our customers receive the best possible performance.
Price: It's free! This means we can provide big-system functionality to small companies with only a few engineers without any crippling licence costs. We can also grow their systems without any unpleasant surprises.
Independence: It's free! Moving to Firebird was a catalyst the began our move to a fully open stack which released us from the constant upgrade mill we had been on through the 90s. Firebird has been constantly maintained and developed by a large community since the start and from our experience with kinterbasdb we know that Open Source gives us the freedom to use what works for us without any artificial pressures to move on - we get to choose when to upgrade to the latest and greatest version.
Reliability: There's only so many hours in the day, and we don't spend them worrying about our databases. They just run and run and run.
Maintenance - none. Downtime - none. Lost data - none. Even when hardware has inevitably failed, Firebird has always carried its load safely to the other side.
Flexibility: Firebird gives us a perfect balance of OLTP sparkle with OLAP grunt. This means we can develop applications that benefit from both approaches in a single database which in turn gives our customers the perfect balance of real-time data access and large data-warehouse style reporting.
Support: We've read the book, we've spoken to the team, but most of all we've lurked on the mailing lists. The knowledge and support the lists provide is second to none on the internet. Even if you ask silly questions they will take the time to carefully explain what you should be doing.
Throughout the last decade we have tried the alternatives, and each time we've come back to Firebird, each time feeling a bit more guilty that we even considered moving!