Enterprise Database Deployments Lagging

Enterprises in general are choosing Oracle Corp. relational DBMSes more often than comparable databases from IBM or Microsoft Corp.

Enterprises in general are choosing Oracle Corp. relational DBMSes more often than comparable databases from IBM or Microsoft Corp., but Oracles lead in market share is threatened as customers scale back deployments.

International Data Corp., of Framingham, Mass., last week announced that the gap between Oracle and IBM is narrowing and that Microsoft is showing the strongest growth in the nearly $13 billion market for RDBMSes. The market researcher also said all three developers are increasingly cornering the object-relational DBMS market.

That report followed one last fall from Gartner Inc.s Gartner Dataquest unit that said IBM and Microsoft databases were growing market share while Oracle was losing. Harte-Hanks Market Intelligence Inc. in November reported that Microsoft was the primary DBMS vendor at Latin American sites, with Oracle second.

In the IDC report, market leader Oracles share slipped to 39.4 percent last year from 41.7 percent in 2001. That slippage helped No. 2 vendor IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., to pull a tick closer, with its share of 33.6, up from its 2001 market share of 31 percent. Microsofts market share rose to 11.1 percent last year from 9.7 percent in the previous year.

Overall, database software sales were nearly flat last year, according to IDC. It attributed variations in vendors performance to differences in their business models and the segments of the market in which they are active. Vendors that suffered—namely, Oracle and Sybase Inc.—depended on large systems deployments, whereas vendors that derived incremental revenue by selling lower-cost solutions to SMEs (small and midsize enterprises) fared better.

For example, Oracle has seen its large customers expand their database capacity year after year by either adding servers or increasing their CPU or named-user licenses. Because of the shriveled economy, however, many enterprises are forgoing such upgrades, IDC said. In addition, Oracle, of Redwood Shores, Calif., has been selling middle-tier deployments, but those have often involved the Standard Edition of the companys namesake RDBMS, which sells for a far smaller cost than the Enterprise Edition, which accounts for the bulk of Oracles RDBMS revenue.

IDC tentatively forecast a thawing of budgets for large enterprise databases. But IDC analyst Carl Olofson said the picture was cloudy.

"Theres been anecdotal evidence that things may turn up in this quarter, but I think its premature to say that," Olofson said. "Ive since heard other things that go the other way."