The global market for relational database management systems (RDBMS) grew by an estimated 11.6 percent last year to an overall level of $14.9 billion, according to a study recently released by research firm IDC. However, because of a falling U.S. dollar, those numbers are not as rosy as observers might believe at first glance, said Carl Olofson, research director in information management and data integration software at IDC.
“That growth doesn’t necessarily represent a proportional increase in sales, because if the exchange rate changes such that the dollar is worth less, then it takes more dollars to buy the same amount of product,” he said. “There was real growth that did represent an improvement, and it was a good year, but it wasn’t quite as good as the numbers would indicate if you took them at face value.”
The report, “Worldwide RDBMS 2004 Vendor Shares: Preliminary Results for the Top 5 Vendors Show a Solid Boost,” examines the performance of the RDBMS sector according to the leading providers, geographic region and the overall market. “We go through a fairly exhaustive, bottom-up process that involves all the software markets, so we have a complete picture before we make a definitive determination,” Olofson said.
According to the report, the top five RDBMS vendors (in terms of ’04 revenues) were Oracle (41.3 percent of market share), IBM (30.6 percent), Microsoft (13.4 percent), Sybase (3.1 percent) and NCR Teradata (3.1 percent). Oracle and Microsoft’s share rose a bit from 2003 while IBM’s declined somewhat, Olofson said.
“Most of (Oracle’s) revenue comes from large companies that use Oracle database as the basis for running their business,” he added. “They normally undergo regular growth as a result of those companies increasing their database capacity for some reason. During the period of economic belt-tightening, a number of Oracle customers were holding off on their database upgrades and expansion plans. Apparently, last year they felt confident enough to put a little bit more money into the budget.”
The fastest-growing regions for RDBMS were Eastern Europe and Asia Pacific, which Olofson attributed to genuine expansion, as well as shifting currency exchange rates. He added that these regions might have a burgeoning homegrown RDBMS market in the coming years, which could produce products that might even eventually rival the Oracle Database 10g or the IBM DB2 Universal Database 8.2 (or their successors).
“There’s always the possibility of a wild card popping up in the deck,” he said. “There’s a lot of growth of software technology in emerging geographic markets like India and China. It’s entirely possible that some enterprise could appear in one of those places that we don’t know about today.”
Hungry for more information on the state of RDBMS? Then check out the Tech Tools column, “RDBMS: Looking Back, Moving Ahead,” in the April issue of Certification Magazine, which will be posted at CertMag.com on March 21.