Study: Relational Database Market Dips 7%

New license software revenue for relational database management systems (RDBMS) decreased 6.9 percent in 2002, totaling $6.6 billion in 2002 from revenues of $7.1 billion a year earlier, according to Gartner, who just completed a worldwide study.

So much for all of the hype about data management software. Though databases are traditionally a strong revenue earner, the study confirms that spending for enterprise software was particularly weak in 2002, when a depressed economy negatively effected information technology sectors across the board.

IBM led the vendor pack with its DB2 database, which accounted for 36.2 percent of new license revenue for the RDBMS market in 2002 on the strength of its zSeries mainframe sales for DB2. Oracle followed with 33.8 percent of the market and Microsoft came in third with an 18 percent share. IBM’s new license revenues totaled $2.4 million, while Oracle and Microsoft reaped about $2.25 billion and $1.2 billion, respectively.

On the strength of its flagship 9i database, Oracle maintained its lead in the RDBMS market on the Unix and Windows server platforms, with a 43 percent share. IBM followed, with just over 24 percent. Microsoft, the No. 3 vendor in the market, grew 17 percent, and it continues to hawk its improved 64-bit SQL database to smaller enterprises.

Open source database management systems, such as MySQL and PostGreSQL, were not included in this study.

“Along with many of the other IT markets, the RDBMS markets are feeling the pressures of reduced IT spending,” said Colleen Graham, industry analyst for Gartner’s Software Industry Research group. The results, she said, were no surprise.

“It wasn’t that much of a surprise that the RDBMS market declined that much in 2002, given that Oracle holds such a large percent of the market (nearly 40% in 2001, dropping to around 34% in 2002),” Graham said. “Basically when a vendor holds that much marketshare, their results materially affect the market as a whole.”

Graham said this is a bit assuaged by the fact that major vendors continue to work on writing new applications or embarking on new partnerships for their customers to keep database growth from getting stagnant.

IBM, for one, has been particularly busy on the data management front to pry market share from leader Oracle. In a statement, the firm said it owed its success to not only DB2, but it’s extensive data management tool portfolio, such as DB2 Information Integrator. Earlier this week, Oracle expanded its 20-year strategic alliance to include support for Oracle data management products on Sun’s Solaris SPARC, Solaris x86 and Linux systems.

IBM and Oracle have both been working hard to corral market share with Linux. Microsoft, while it doesn’t share those firms’ enthusiasm for Linux, is aiming its “cost-conscious” 64-bit SQL servers at the low-end of the market

Graham said she expects the DBMS market to see a decline of 2 to 3 percent in 2003. Looking forward, she expects to see the market flatten out with positive growth in the low single digits in 2004.