The open source object-relational Postgres database platform (formally known as PostgreSQL) appears to be gaining ground in the government sector as the database wars rage on. That's according to EnterpriseDB, which says its list of customers in the federal government is rapidly growing at the expense of Oracle (ORCL) database solutions.

Postgres is a freely available, open source database platform that constitutes an alternative to databases that have traditionally played an important role in the enterprise, such as Oracle's MySQL product. EnterpriseDB, which helps support Postgres development, is a leading provider of a value-added implementation of the software, as well as related support and services.

On July 23, EnterpriseDB announced that it now supplies Postgres products and services to more than 40 U.S. federal government agencies representing a growth rate of 40 percent in the government sector over the last year. The company attributes its expansion among government customers to "shrinking budgets and ongoing battles in Congress," which "have prompted U.S. government agencies to turn increasingly to open source database options such as Postgres." EnterpriseDB says that Postgres can save organizations as much as 80 percent in database costs.

The company also believes its growth in the government sector comes at Oracle's expense. According to a statement, "EnterpriseDB's PostgreSQL solutions are replacing Oracle or are being deployed in lieu of expanding Oracle at some of the world's largest companies as well as federal agencies."

The claim that government agencies are ditching Oracle purely because the open source nature of Postgres means lower costs is a bit problematic, particularly since Oracle MySQL is also an open source database. The reality is probably more complicated, and involves broader upheavals in the database market as organizations experiment with newer database platforms that include not only Postgres but also the range of so-called NoSQL solutions.

Still, whatever the exact cause, the significant growth in the government market that EnterpriseDB reports is a sign of change. It's also a trend the company hopes to continue, having announced last week the expansion of its government group and the hiring of Loren Osborn as the group's director. Osborn comes to EnterpriseDB from Gartner, where he served as head of the U.S. Navy program, and has extensive experience in software sales, analysis and consulting for the federal government.