Open-Source Database Adoption May Be Linked to Economy

By Brian Prince  |  Posted 2008-10-23

Open-Source Database Adoption May Be Linked to Economy

At a time of economic struggle, it is always good to find a silver lining. For IT administrators, that silver lining could very well be open-source databases.

Business decision makers will be tasked to do more for less money, which may make open-source databases such as MySQL and PostgreSQL an attractive option. However, it is unclear just how much the economy will affect adoption.

According to Forrester Research, companies such as Sun Microsystems, Ingres and EnterpriseDB have reasons to smile.

"Based our research we were now expecting a 24 percent growth in the open-source database-new licenses, support and services-market in 2009, revised upward from an earlier 18 percent projected growth," said Noel Yuhanna, an analyst with Forrester. "This takes into account the current economic condition and market movement. Over the last month, we are already seeing a large number of customer inquiries asking about how to save money in databases, and some are looking at open-source databases."

Open-source databases such as MySQL, PostgreSQL and Ingres have established good credibility in the market, and customers are finding great value from open source, he continued.

That's solid validation for a market that Forrester Research says stands to grow from $850 million-a number that includes licensing, support and services-to $1.3 billion in 2010. However, there are a number of issues that impact how much open-source databases will grow.

For one thing, there is the presence of Express Editions of popular proprietary databases such as IBM DB2, Oracle Database and Microsoft SQL Server. While open-source database adoption has grown alongside Express databases, a survey of more than 340 businesspeople by the 451 Group conducted in December 2007 found 19 percent were planning to increase their Express Edition database adoption over the next 12 months. That is more than double the number who said they planned to increase their use of open-source databases.

Concern over Support, Security, Functionality


The 451 Group's research also found that enterprises remain concerned about issues such as support, security and functionality, and were largely using open-source databases for non-mission critical applications. Adoption was driven largely by a desire to avoid paying for additional database licenses from proprietary vendors for new projects in specific application areas, such as development and testing environments.

In addition, migrating from a proprietary database to an open-source database remains a costly process for many enterprises.

Still, Matt Aslett, an analyst with the 451 Group, pointed out research from ChangeWave that shows 26 percent of U.S. software purchasers are planning to decrease their spending on database management systems in the next 90 days.

"That suggests a potential upturn for open source, although given the cost and complexity of database migration projects, it is more likely that enterprises will postpone spending on new projects and begin to look at potential alternatives, rather than shift their attention wholesale to open source," he said.

In the end, economic conditions are not enough to cause a significant swing in adoption, noted database industry analyst Peter O'Kelly. There are also factors such as developer training and salary expectations of experienced developers to consider.

"I imagine some organizations will revisit open-source alternatives as a means of potentially cutting costs, but I don't think it'll radically change the current picture," he said.

Editor's Note: This story was updated with comments from 451 Group analyst Matt Aslett.

Rocket Fuel