Pervasive Software has pulled the plug on its PostgreSQL-based database offering after a year and a half.

In January of last year, the company announced it would leap into the high-end database market using a business model that has worked for companies such as Red Hat and MySQL - creating a supported product based on freely available open source software. PostgreSQL is widely considered one of the most advanced DMBS available, but has long lacked a high-end commercial sponsor or support offering.

It seems Pervasive is out of the running to be that sponsor. In an open letter to PostgreSQL developers, Pervasive president John Farr said the company could not compete with other support options.

"While we always knew that PostgreSQL is a solid product with advanced database capabilities, and that it has a very real opportunity to shake up the high-end database market, we underestimated the high level of quality support and expertise already available within the PostgreSQL community," Farr wrote.

Far from signalling the failure of PostgreSQL in the enterprise, Pervasive's decision may indicate that this area is just getting more competitive.

Four months after Pervasive launched its Pervasive Postgres, for instance, startup EnterpriseDB came onto the scene - it has a similar offering, but adds various features aimed at seducing Oracle administrators. Coincidentally, this week EnterpriseDB said it had added another $20 million in debt and equity in a Series B round of funding, bringing its total raised funds to $28.5 million.

In February, EnterpriseDB released a major upgrade to its database, incorporating the recently released PostgreSQL 8.1.2 as well as new Oracle compatibility features and a integrated debugger.

Sun also offers PostgreSQL support.

Farr said Pervasive was finding it difficult to make headway against such competition. "In this environment, we found that the opportunity for Pervasive Software to meaningfully increase adoption of PostgreSQL by providing an alternative source for support and services was quite limited," he wrote.

Pervasive will continue to make data management products for PostgreSQL and plans to continue contributing documentation and intellectual property to the project.

Open-source databases are following a similar path to Linux in the enterprise, according to industry observers, starting from low-end uses and moving up gradually into more important parts of the business. No single company controls an open-source project, and development is shared amongst enthusiasts and employees of various companies.

In theory, and increasingly in practice, this development model can provide a low-cost, commodified replacement for much enterprise software infrastructure, analysts say.