Regardless of the dollars doleful year, the database market was bolstered as enterprises played catch-up with somewhat looser budgets, responding as they were to backlogs of database management requirements, IDC reported.
Oracle Corp. once again topped the chart, with a market share of 41.3 percent and a widening gap between itself and its closest competitor, IBM.
IBM nabbed 30.6 of the market, followed by Microsoft Corp. with 13.4 percent. Sybase Inc. captured 3.1 percent of the market, NCR Teradata grabbed 2.6 percent, and "other" accounted for 9 percent.
Oracles market share grew 14.5 percent from the 2003 numbers. Willie Hardie, senior director of database product marketing for the Redwood Shores, Calif., database giant, said that Database 10gs general availability was far and away the most significant factor in Oracles strong database market growth.
"2004 was a very good year for us," said Hardie, in Redwood Shores, Calif. "If we look at Oracles growth in 2004, we would attribute it to general adoption of grid computing technology by our customers and partners."
Other factors in Oracles growth include new packaging and pricing options to meet the needs of the SME (small to medium-sized enterprise) and departmental markets, Hardie said.
After 10gs January 2004 release, Oracle packaged Database 10g Standard Edition One for double the number of processors—that would be two—and a greatly reduced per-user cost of $745 for five users. Previously, SE 1 was only available for a single processor, and the per-user price was $199. Hardie said that Oracle was seeing a good deal of traction on the adoption of SE 1, and analysts agree that the market is buying it up.
Finally, Hardie pointed out, another reason for Oracles market share growth is that the company is giving away the RAC (Real Application Clusters) technology for Standard Edition.
Microsoft takes the cake when it comes to market share growth, however. Its 2004 market numbers show a 22 percent growth rate over numbers from a year ago—the most robust growth of any database vendor. Microsoft is followed closely by NCR Teradata, however, with 19.6 percent market share growth.
IDCs report points out that Asia/Pacific and Western Europe gained database market share from 2003 to 2004, while North America slipped. This is likely due to exchange rates. Once growth rates are adjusted based on the currency exchange rate changes over the year, the 2004 database market grew about 7 percent.
Still, Oracle, NCR and Microsoft did well. IDC credits NCRs growth to resurgence in interest in data warehousing and other business intelligence database developments. Microsoft "continues to tear up the middle market," according to the report, and users are indeed warming up to the second release of Oracles 10g.
IDC expects Microsoft to not only cement its control of the middle market with the summer release of SQL Server 2005, but to also back up its claim as an appropriate RDBMS (Relational DBMS) technology maker for the large enterprise. The analyst firm, in Framingham, Mass., predicts a "battle royal" for market share once SQL Server 2005 is released.
Oracles position as database king will be solidified by its healthy growth and recurring position on top of the database food chain, IDC predicts—a position it will attempt to leverage as it seeks to become the premier enterprise data integrator, particularly with its Customer Data Hubs technology.
IDC predicts that Oracle and IBM will continue to try to wrestle market share away from Microsoft in the middle market. All three of the top RDBMS vendors will have to fend off the open-source RDBMS providers as they continue to gobble up market share, however.