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A growing headache for the database giants

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October 21, 2005

A growing headache for the database giants

Steve Hamm

Mainstream database software companies that have been watching open-source upstart MySQL in their rearview mirrors must be having some uncomfortable thoughts right about now. According to a user survey released Oct. 20 by market researcher Evans Data Corp., open-source database deployments in corporations are up 20% in the past six months, and use of MySQL is up 25%. Forty-four percent of corporate software developers surveyed said they use MySQL software. In the coming months, MySQL's growth rate could hockeystick. The company plans this month on shipping the fifth version of its software, which has been under development for 2 1/2 years. This version includes enhancements that make it capable of handling many of the jobs that are now done using expensive databases from Oracle, IBM, and Microsoft. That could put a real damper on prices and revenue growth in a $15 billion industry.

Microsoft is most vulnerable, since its 13.4% market share last year (according to IDC) was concentrated in the lower end of the market, where MySQL plays best. But Oracle, with 41% share, and, IBM, with 31%, can't be complacent. A not-so-subtle signal that Oracle gets it came on Oct. 10, when it bought Innobase Oy, a Finnish, open-source company that makes a database engine that is often used in concert with MySQL's package.

The giants know they have to have an open-source play, but they want to do it without seriously harming their core products. IBM, for instance, in May bought a tiny startup called Glucode, which sold a suite of application server software based that competed with jBoss, the open-source leader in that segment. The message: If you can't beat them, join them.

I've heard people in the open-source sphere predict that, ultimately, they'll compress $10 billion software markets into $1 billion markets. We may be seeing the beginning of that.

11:36 AM

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Oracle has made a very interesting move; the InnoDB purchase, referenced above, is actually the core of the new enterprise-level functionality that MySQL has (stored procedures, database triggers, foreign key constraints)- in other words, Oracle now controls the technology that MySQL relies on to compete with them.

I'm telling all my customers to evaluate the significantly more capable Postgresql ( database server instead- it has more lenient licensing terms than MySQL, has supported enterprise features for far longer, and doesn't have it's technical core controlled by a hostile competitor known for scorched-earth strategies.

Posted by: Tim Howland at October 24, 2005 12:28 PM

I agree that PostgreSQL is a better product than the MySQL. PostgreSQL has better functionalities than the latest MySQL. It has a spatial data support that many commercial products don't even have. For people who really need open source database engine they should be getting PostgreSQL. Since MySQL is readily available for every web host out there so it is very hard for small business to ignore them. I hope this version live up to the hype.

Posted by: developer at October 27, 2005 02:25 PM

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