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Business Intelligence Drives Relational Data Base Management System Market Growth

Gartner’s most recent RDBMS market share figures amount to a vindication of sorts for the business intelligence industry; Teradata’s revenues surge by more than 17 percent

According to market watcher Gartner Inc., the relational database market expanded at an encouraging clip last year.

It marked a return to form for an RDBMS sector that in recent years has stagnated or posted only modest growth.

More than that, however, Gartner’s market research figures amount to a vindication of sorts for the business intelligence industry, which—Gartner analysts say—helped account for much of this growth.

Consider the case of Teradata, a division of NCR Corp. and a brand that’s synonymous with high-end data warehousing. Teradata has consistently registered in market research surveys from Gartner and fellow market-watcher International Data Corp. (IDC), to be sure, but in both 2003 and 2004 the company eclipsed Sybase for number four in the overall RDBMS market, behind perennial leaders IBM Corp., Oracle Corp., and Microsoft Corp.

Last year, Teradata controlled 2.9 percent of the worldwide RDBMS market, an improvement of one-tenth of a of percentage point. That’s modest growth, certainly, but it also marks a change (relative to Teradata’s 2003 revenue of $196.3 million) of 17.2 percent. That was second only to Microsoft’s venerable SQL Server 2000—which grew its own year-over-year revenues by 18 percent—and better than both IBM and Oracle. IBM, for the record, was hit by slumping sales of its Informix database products, which declined by 17.6 percent year-over-year.

For former RDBMS powerhouse (and one-time data warehousing pioneer) Sybase, 2004 was another lackluster year: That company grew its share of worldwide RDBMS revenues by .5 percent.

For the year, IBM was the nominal RDBMS market-share leader, with a combined 34.1 percent of worldwide revenues. Oracle was in second place, with 33.7 percent. IBM generated 1.7 percent of its RDMBS revenues from sales of the former Informix product line, which helped nudge it past Oracle.

Oracle’s revenues, on the other hand, surged thanks (in part) to its big bet on Linux. “Much of IBM's growth was generated by its DB2 on the zSeries platform, and IBM's DB2 sales on the Unix platform performed well with nearly 9 percent growth," said Colleen Graham, principal analyst at Gartner, in a statement. “Oracle saw strong growth of nearly 15 percent, much of it coming from its performance on the Linux platform.”

Gartner seems disinclined to call an outright winner in the RDBMS wars, noting that the revenue difference between IBM and Oracle was less than $30 million, which—statistically, anyway—is too close to call.

According to Gartner’s market-share research, many companies that experienced year-over-year revenue growth saw their overall share (in percentage terms) of the RDBMS market decline. IBM, for example, shaved 1.4 percentage points off its 2003 market share (35.5 percent), while Sybase lost .2 percentage points (2.3 percent in 2004; 2.5 percent in 2005). Microsoft, Oracle, and Teradata all grew their market share percentages, however.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a technology writer with 20 years of experience. His writing has focused on business intelligence, data warehousing, and analytics for almost 15 years. Swoyer has an abiding interest in tech, but he’s particularly intrigued by the thorny people and process problems technology vendors never, ever want to talk about. You can contact him at [email protected].

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