Relational Database Sales Slide

As spending on relational databases slid nearly 7 percent, Oracle lost its grip on the market to IBM.

Spending on relational databases slid 6.9 percent, from a total of $7.1 billion in 2001 down to $6.6 billion in 2002, according to a report released Wednesday by Gartner Inc.

At 36.2 percent, IBM had the biggest share of new-license revenue for the worldwide RDBMS (relational database management systems) market. Oracle Corp. pulled in second, with 33.8 percent of new-license revenue.

According to Gartner, IBMs growth can be attributed to a surge in popularity for DB2 for the zSeries. That growth spurt helped counteract Big Blues bellyflop with DB2 for the iSeries, which experienced a double-digit decline.

This is the first time IBM has overtaken goliath Oracle in the category of relational databases. Oracles grip on the market loosened from a 2001 share of 39.7 percent down to 33.9 percent in 2002. IBM grabbed those 2 percentage points and then some, rising to 36.2 percent from 34 percent in that time.

But Oracle still holds the reins when it comes to the RDBMS market on the distributed platforms of Unix and Windows server. Oracle has 43 percent of that market, compared with IBMs 24 percent. Microsoft Corp. at No. 3 is the precocious child in the distributed database market, experiencing 17 percent growth from 2001 to 2002. Gartner attributed Microsofts gains to the fact that SQL Server appeals to cash-strapped enterprises and has benefited from improved scalability.