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Database Growth Points To Open Source

Microsoft's SQL Server database continued to outpace its larger rivals Oracle and IBM in the overall database market in 2007, according to this year's annual database server market share reports by IDC and Gartner. But providers of open source database servers, while still a small slice of the market, could have a significant impact over the coming years.

Both IT research firms last month released their annual market share reports for database software. SQL Server revenues grew 16.5 percent in 2007 over the prior year, compared to Oracle, which grew a more modest 14.9 percent, and IBM, which was up just 10 percent, according to Gartner analyst Donald Feinstein. However Oracle and IBM's revenues come from a much higher base -- $48.6 billion and $20.7 billion respectively, compared with SQL Server's $18.1 billion.

Microsoft's license fees tend to be lower than its larger rivals, suggesting unit-wise even more substantial growth for SQL Server. But the latter database server platform only runs on Windows, hence limiting its proliferation within the enterprise.

In the Windows server market, SQL Server accounts for a dominant share of 51.4 percent, compared with 28.8 percent for Oracle and 9.8 percent for IBM. In the Windows market, Oracle's growth of 21 percent outpaced Microsoft's 16.5 percent.

All that noted, Gartner this year drilled deeper into the open source database market.

The steady growth of open source database software could affect license fees going forward, Feinstein predicts. Until this year, Gartner had only broken out open source databases as a whole -- accounting for about 1 percent of the market. Having broken out the key players, here is the rundown: MySQL revenues were $65 million, up 46.9 percent, Ingress was just shy of $40 million, up 100 percent, and EnterpriseDB, supplier of the popular Postgres database was up nearly 9 million, though revenues were up 282 percent.

Feinstein points out since the open source database licenses are free, it's hard to compare it to suppliers of licensed software. Revenues for open source database software, of course, are all for services, etc. Because open source database software lags the features of licensed software today, it has not been a threat, but Feinstein says that could change over time.

"Looking out five years, if open source databases can start to be used in mission critical situations, they could have a major impact on pricing," he said.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 07/24/2008

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