The “Global Database Market”

11:56 pm digital

Today the European Commission expressed their concern about Oracle’s acquisition of Sun, framed in the context of the database market.

What strikes me as particularly funny in the reportage on this story is many analysts’ claims that MySQL has a small market share. I’ll pick on Gartner here:

“MySQL has extremely small market share,” said Andy Butler, an analyst with IT research firm Gartner. “The E.C. is losing sight of the big picture and is bringing about a more anticompetitive situation by focusing on one product at the expense of the other moving parts.”

This quote is pulled from a Wall Street Journal article that posits, “Many analysts believe the commission’s focus on MySQL is misplaced. MySQL’s share of the $19 billion global database market is approximately 1.5%. It is dwarfed not only by Oracle’s database business, but by those of competitors such as International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT).”

Gartner and the WSJ are looking at the US$19 billion global database marketplace. That’s an interesting approach, given that the vast majority of MySQL users don’t pay a cent for their software. So their usage does not factor into this US$19 billion market at all.

Now, an Oracle 11g license is not cheap. Every license Oracle sells is a major bite out of the US$19 billion global database market. Every user of the MySQL Community Edition doesn’t even make a nibble.

Forrester Research published a study in 2008 that showed that “MySQL has the highest adoption and growth. MySQL continues to have the largest mindshare in the open source database market and has the highest number of paying customers for product support: an estimated 16,000.”

Gartner themselves, Evans Data Corporation, and other industry groups have released similar findings; findings that MySQL and Sun proudly annouce. Indeed, look at the quote at the bottom of that page:

“The future of the database market will be the standardization on MySQL.” – Charlie Garry, Meta Group

Here’s a little informal, unscientific data. Look at Google Trends’ output for MySQL, Oracle 11g, Postgres, db2, and Microsoft SQL Server. It’s quite clear that Google is finding far, FAR more interest MySQL than for any other product among their searches. If MySQL’s market share is so low, why do Google search users search for that term so much more frequently (factor in the tens, if not hundreds, of times)?

With all due respect, I’d suggest Mr. Butler at Gartner read his own company’s reports, and when considering the “global database market,” do so without the blinders of capitalization. The world of business is far more nuanced than can be accurately expressed with a dollar sign in front of one’s research.

11 Responses

  1. Miguel Angel Da Vila Says:

    Please change your query in Google Trends to:

    mysql, oracle, postgresql,sql server

    As an example: using “Oracle 11g” distorts the results, in that form the statistic make reference to a version. It is the same if you put MySQL 5.1.38 in the query.

    On this way, the results dramatically change.

  2. Che Kristo Says:

    I agree with you but my only concern is this. HP and IBM are using the uncertainty around Sun to poach customers. Sun pump a huge amount of their resources into open source and will in all likelihood continue to do so under Oracle (of course Oracle will stop some projects) Suns revenues which are in freefall because of this uncertainty are direct contributors to open source. If Sun loses, open source loses. I am not discounting that HP and IBM contribute to OSS but nowhere near the scale of Sun…

    Lets hope that this investigation is thourough but timely, for the sake of open source.

  3. mneptok Says:

    @Miguel Angel Da Vila

    Fair enough, let’s incorporate some release numbers. Searches for just “oracle” could include people researching information on Pythia. So let’s look at specific release numbers so that we know people are looking at databases.

    MySQL 5 vs Oracle 11g

    MySQL 5.1 vs Oracle 11g

    MySQL 5.1 vs Oracle 11g r2

    Do these trends strike you as indicative of a database that has 1.5% market share?

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  5. Frantisek Says:

    I do not agree with Google Trends being used as an argument.

    There are almost no hobbyist using Oracle. Oracle is used by professionals with expensive trainings, who already have basic SQL knowledge.

    On the other hand a good part of MySQL userbase are people learning about databases, so they logically generate more queries in Google, especially for basic stuff.

    Oracle is learned from books, MySQL from the internet.

  6. Kay Röpke Says:

    I doubt Google Trends is producing any usable data for measuring impact of an acquisition, nor should it be portrayed as being relevant, with all due respect.

    What strikes me as odd in this discussion is that there seems to be the notion that MySQL would simply go away should this acquisition go through. From the outside (and I know as much about the matters as anyone else, i.e. I have no inside information whatsoever) there is no indication of that at all. Look at InnoDB for an example of this. Everyone was afraid and it turned out to be a good thing.

    GPL, anyone? Besides, many MySQL users do not even consider buying an Enterprise subscription, so they do not partake in the “market” as defined by revenue. Sure, they are in some other market definition, but I don’t think that is relevant at all in this discussion.
    Remember the outcry when Sun acquired MySQL AB? It turned out not the the end of the world, quite the contrary, actually.

    I find it odd to concentrate the inquiry on MySQL vs Oracle, really. But then again, what do I know.

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  8. BlackJack Says:

    It’s a question of perspective. Wether sales revenue or unit sales volume is used to determine the market share.

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  10. raj Says:

    All revinue based growth analysis are misleading. For example Pracle charges very high price on TPM basis. Then comes SQL server and DB2(IBM). So in reallity more tansaction growth happens on DB2 than Oracle. Oracle and its cheif Larry are smart in mind games. They boast Oracle in every possible way. The real growth of the systems and users are weak because of the cost, cost , cost.

    The cost of oracle installation is much much higher than IBM DB2. (I work on both Oracle, DB2 LUW and z/OS). The license , support, number of DBAs for a project, the Unix based hardware and software are high and over designed. In my shop and in other shops every new application is put in new unix/oracle lisense which is a big waste. In other hand all new business applications in DB2 z/OS is put in the existing environment with system sharing and tuning. Now DB2 on LUW is same like Oracle on Unix/windows systems.

    The Mysql’s life is entirly based on the support revinue. Think it as an another Linux and redhat suport. I personnally don’t trust the free stuffs for my personal use and definitely not for corporate nervous system.

  11. mneptok Says:

    I personnally don’t trust the free stuffs for my personal use and definitely not for corporate nervous system.

    So, you don’t use:

    1). The Linux kernel

    2). Apache

    3). PHP/Python/etc

    4). Sendmail/Postfix/Dovecot/etc

    Or any other such free solutions? Really?

    What, exactly, do you recommend for the “corporate nervous system?” Windows Server running IIS and Exchange? Because Google uses the LAMP stack, and I’m guessing their deployments are larger and more mission-critical than most.