RESEARCH & RESOURCES

Microsoft Gains Ground in Relational Database Management System Foot Race

Microsoft grew its share of the relational database market in 2005—even though its BI-laden SQL Server 2005 release didn’t ship until late last year.

Microsoft Corp. continued to grow its share of the relational database market in 2005—in spite of the fact that the software giant didn’t formally deliver its BI-laden SQL Server 2005 release until December of last year.

That’s the conclusion of new market research from International Data Corp. (IDC), which found that Oracle Corp. retained its RDBMS market lead (with 44.6 percent of all revenues), followed by IBM Corp. (with 21.4 percent) and Microsoft, with 16.8 percent. Sybase Inc. (with 3.5 percent) and Teradata, a division of NCR Corp. (which 2.9 percent share) rounded out the top five.

RDBMS market revenues surged last year, growing by nearly 10 percent to $14.6 billion. “2005 was a solid year for the RDBMS software market, with positive growth figures across the board,” said Carl Olofson, research vice president of Information Management and Data Integration Software research for IDC, in a statement. “Growth has been driven by increased demand in the established geographic markets as well as new growth in Asia/Pacific. Specifically, there is an increasing demand in the United States due to the need for better information governance in response to compliance issues, which has resulted in database-growing initiatives such as master data management.”

If anything, IDC says, pent-up demand for SQL Server 2005 should help Microsoft maintain its momentum. And as the software giant continues to grow its market share, IBM and Oracle will try to stymie its momentum by offering aggressively priced developer and small-business packages to help redirect entry-level users. At some point, the researcher predicts, the efforts of open-source RDBMS vendors—such as MySQL AB—will start to be felt, too.

“Microsoft is not the only vendor that the two giants—Oracle and IBM—are worried about,” Olofson said. “Alternatives such as …MySQL are also attracting a good deal of attention and loyalty from a new generation of database developers. IDC believes these open source vendors could ultimately spur a fundamental change in the way that RDBMS products are priced and licensed.”

Microsoft, for its part, says it’s business as usual in SQL Server-ville. The new SQL Server 2005 database continues to build on the success of its aging predecessor, says Alex Payne, senior product manager in Microsoft’s Office business applications group.

What’s more, Payne argues, SQL Server 2005’s BI feature set is a catalyst for revenue. “We don’t break out specific adoption numbers externally, but I can say BI was one of the top themes [for SQL Server 2005 growth],” he comments. “Quarter to quarter, the SQL Server business as a whole has been growing, one of the fastest growing and largest magnitude growth areas of Microsoft; it has been mentioned in the last six Microsoft quarterly reports. BI is one of the driving factors. We’ve had a significant amount of customers—Barnes & Noble is one of the [customers] that have been pretty vocal about their adoption of the Microsoft BI stack.”

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 evets@alwaysbedisrupting.com.

TDWI Membership

Get immediate access to training discounts, video library, BI Teams, Skills, Budget Report, and more

Individual, Student, & Team memberships available.