The “Global Database Market”

digital 11 Comments

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.