The Passion of the Database

Opinion: Passion leads some organizations to make potentially bad decisions that overlook more cost-effective choices.

In one of my recent articles I described, what I view, as a dim future for IBM DB2 in the Linux, Unix and Windows market.

I received a number of e-mails and was directed to a number of discussion threads where the article was debated.

By some I was lauded as being "an excellent writer with savvy insight and clarity of the pen." Still another described me to be "a magazine troll." Well, you cant win them all.

What struck me was the level of fervor that still exists among those in the trenches.

One responder even sent me a lengthy response claiming that my assumptions were true only if I didnt include Informix in that mix, certain that Informix would once again take its rightful place among the leaders in the relational database market.

Well everyone has an opinion, or are at least on some very strong hallucinogens.

But its all good. I used to be one of those, especially when I worked on the vendor side, where you have to drink the Kool-Aid.

In fact, it took me a while to adjust to being an industry analyst, because you have to be agnostic (or at least I believe you should, a philosophy not universally shared in the analyst business I have found).

You move from being a fan and cheerleader to being an observer without passion or prejudice.

Its this passion that leads some organizations to make potentially bad decisions. Not bad from the standpoint that total failure occurs, but more along the lines that equally good yet more cost-effective choices might have been missed.

Now, lets be honest, buying decisions (in IT, anyway) have more to do with risk avoidance (which translates to market share) than they do with the relative strength of any product.

When you have passion for a product, you lose sight of this fact—a lesson I learned many years ago when speaking to a customer that had chosen a competitors performance monitor over my companys.

"How could you make such a choice?" I said incredulously. "Our monitor tracks over 130 metrics, and theirs has only 60!" The answer hit me like a truck, an epiphany really, "Well theirs had the 60 we cared about."

So "best" is a highly subjective term that means that the "best" product will always be a loser in some peoples opinion.

As for DB2 for Linux, Unix and Windows … By the way, the name alone pisses me off.

I mean, its so long, yet I have to be specific, lest I confuse people with the other database platforms that IBM has also named DB2 but are clearly different.

In any case, I digress. DB2 for Linux, Unix and Windows, readers should not interpret from my words that IBM is pulling out of the database market or that I am attempting to influence the market because I own stock in Microsoft or Oracle.

/zimages/3/28571.gifClick here to read more about Oracle and database licensing.

In the spirit of full disclosure, its possible I do, but who reads the prospectus mutual fund companies send out anyway? Once again, I digress.

The truth is that DB2 for Linux, Unix, and Windows (DB2 LUW) has no market momentum, which translates into: Its riskier than other database options.

The truth is also that while DB2 LUW, Oracle, and Microsoft SQL Server may all be comparable options for most things, it does not make databases a commodity.

For one thing, switching costs can be very high. So high switching costs and low market momentum tend to be against DB2 LUW.

Indeed, in one survey conducted this past spring, almost twice as many users identified MySQL versus DB2 LUW when asked which database was the fastest growing in their environment in terms of applications supported.

Next Page: Fluid future.