The market for the technology is expected to grow, but vendors must overcome hurdles to quicken the pace.
For software developers, choosing the right embedded database can
make all the difference when it comes to performance and reliability.
As the embedded database market continues to grow, vendors are planning
to leverage a combination of technology and partnerships to expand
Key users of embedded databases-database systems that are part
of an application-are ISVs. If the consolidation continues in the
application market, research firm IDC said that the reduced competition
among ISVs could result in smaller embedded database providers being
shut out in favor of nameplate vendors such as Oracle.
"For embedded database system vendors that have no particular
specialty or differentiating technology, this is undoubtedly true,"
said Steve Graves, CEO of McObject. "For example, it is hard to imagine
what would compel a developer of a line-of-business application to
embed a database system from a smaller vendor versus Sybases
SQLAnywhere or Microsoft SQL Server Express Edition. In embedded
systems, however, [requirements] such as a small footprint, portability
or ability to run without a filesystem narrow the field of choices and
virtually eliminates the nameplate DBMS vendors."
Oracle is currently perched atop the embedded database market, according to IDC. In its report,
"Worldwide Embedded DBMS 2007-2011 Forecast and 2006 Vendor Shares,"
IDC credited Oracle with a 23.2 percent share of worldwide embedded
DBMS software revenue in 2006. Next in line was Progress Software, with
"To deal with potential consolidation in the application
market, we plan to continue supporting our partners from both business
and technical perspectives," said Kimberly Mager, senior manager of
product marketing for Progress Softwares OpenEdge offering. "We will
continue to make it easy to interconnect OpenEdge applications with
other apps, using standard Web and messaging technologies, data
interoperability and all of the elements of an easily managed service
A large number of Progress customers have a mix of Microsoft,
Oracle and DB2 database applications, she said, adding the company
plans to continue to grow in part by remaining efficient at its
Forrester Research analyst Noel Yuhanna said that while there
is consolidation in the application market space around mature, large
applications such as CRM (customer relationship management), ERP
(enterprise resource planning) and SCM (supply chain management), there
is still a growing demand for specialized applications to support
vertical industries or deal with business analytics.
"The key benefit of embedded databases is zero administration
and low cost, which is why its been successful, especially in the SMB
[small and midsize business space], where DBA resources are often
scarce," he said. "While mid- to large-applications would definitely
favor a full-blown DBMS, smaller to mid-sized applications often dont
need a very complex DBMS to begin with."
Another challenge for smaller vendors is in database
consolidation, which may force applications to tie their data
management functionality into existing databases, slowing market
growth, the IDC report predicted.
Maybe, maybe not, Graves said.
"If a developer is creating a mobile component to a CRM
application to be used by road warriors, then an argument could be made
that MS SQL Server Compact Edition would be a good choice due to its
inherent ability to sync with an enterprise SQL Server database," he
said. "On the other hand, there are many embedded systems that run on
embedded/real-time OS that have a need to exchange data with enterprise
databases. Because these embedded systems run on platforms that the
nameplate DBMS vendors do not support-VxWorks, Integrity, QNX-or have
performance requirements that the enterprise databases cannot satisfy,
the growth of this market actually benefits embedded database vendors
such as McObject."
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In addition, because embedded databases often support specific
application requirements and focus on small- to medium-sized
applications with less data, they are often not the target of
"Consolidation may be more likely among traditional database
suppliers who are driven to be all things to all people than it will be
for us," Mager said. "There are huge cost burdens in trying to provide
data warehouses, spatial databases, e-mail databases and the
specialized access methods, utilities, tools and applications to go
with them. We dont do that. Our focus is empowering transactional
applications that are the core to a companys business."
Despite challenges that lie ahead, analysts are predicting the
markets steady growth will continue over the next several years, and
officials at Oracle said that in the end, a combination of reduced
dependencies on external systems and lower total cost of ownership will
help drive the market.
"There are more and more devices and applications at the edge
of the datacenter, edge of the network, in peoples homes and in the
mobile world," said Rex Wang, vice president of embedded systems
marketing at Oracle. "All these devices and applications need to store
data locally, manage themselves without a human DBA and operate
continuously without the end user knowing that theres a database
inside. Embedded databases are ideal for these environments."
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