James Governor's Monkchips

Is MySQL kicking Big Three Ass Or Not?

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Via Rick Sherman comes news that IBM, Oracle, and Microsoft continue to make like kids in a candy store where database revenues are concerned. He calls out these takeaways:

“The database market is still expanding at double digit gains, 14.3% from 2005-2006. Despite a lot of people’s feelings that this is a mature market there continues to be a healthy environment.

The top three vendors remain the same from last year (and from the last several years). They are: Oracle 44.4%, IBM 21.2% and Microsoft 18.6%.

The top three vendors control almost three-quarters of the market.”

Which is nice. But Sherman then makes the serious mistake of falling into the revenue counting game. You see IDC is not bad at tracking revenues but it has no way of counting adoption. So when Rick says:

“Open source databases will gain more usage and further expand the overall database marketplace (just as Microsoft is), however, the rate of adoption may not be significant for a while.”

He is unfortunately completely missing what’s really going on out there. MySQL useage is exploding. In many cases its being used as a bucket of bits, rather than a relational database management system. But check out 95% of Web 2.0 Services (that number is plucked out of thin air, feel free to challenge it) and they are using MySQL. Then look at look at companies socialised to open source. MySQL is everywhere. Would IBM really be running MySQL alongside DB2 if they weren’t seeing exponential growth across the open source platfrom? No. Way.

There is currently no way to accurately track open source useage, where code distribution is separated from service contracts. That is the bottom line. Why do IDC’s numbers look the same as last year? Because they still can’t track the real growth in the market.

“The rate of adoption may not be significant for a while…” come on Rick… look around you.

Disclosure: IBM is a patron. Microsoft and MySQL are supporters. Oracle is in our sights.


  1. Isn’t MySQL significant in somewhat the same way that Apple laptops are? No one claims that Apple is grabbing any significant share of corporate desktop computing (yet?) but if you look at what the software development thought leaders are using, the MacBook share is suddenly much more significant. Similarly, I doubt that the big 3 are going to get pushed out of the data center in the short term, but if you look at what’s getting used at the cutting edge, MySQL and Sqlite and PostgreSQL are the thought leaders.

    Innovation comes disproportionately from an unfettered minority of those who can pick their own tools, rather than from the safe bets of the previous generation – usually.

  2. It sounds like mySQL is successfully “competing with non-consumption” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disruptive_technology not “kicking big 3 ass”, whatever the usage statistics might show if they existed. The more interesting question is whether mySQL will increase its benefits faster than the Big 3 lower their total operating cost (e.g., by automating administration, improving programmability, etc.)

  3. I am with you on this one James. As a staunch Microsoft supporter, I have been a begrudging convert to non .NET and non SQL server. Now I have no choice due to the fantstic amunt of integration services around. Covert to MySql or DIE.

  4. Perhaps IBM is pushing MySQL because they are loosing out to Oracle in non-mainframe segments. Of course, you could be right and they might be looking to get 10% of that 3% (or whatever revenue number IDC assigns to MySQL). Another thought- mySQL is expanding the use of database in many cases where none existed creating the grounds for more sophisticated databases to be adopted when the database gets big enough.

  5. Is there a way to track the service contract revenue for MySQL commercial and EnterpriseDB? I ask about both, rather than just MySQL as EnterpriseDB has an Oracle compatability capability to explicitly target the Oracle installed base. These are two different databases targetted at two very different market segments (at least for now). Even the contracts would give some indicator.

  6. […] I know there are many skeptics out there about on the question whether blogging has a role in research, and whether firms like RedMonk have any industry influence. That is fair. But it seems to me that just as we should not confuse a Technorati ranking with industry influence, neither should we imagine that an utterly reductionist focus on RFP involvement tells us everything about influence either. A myopic focus on capital expenditure and new product purchase relies on a too-blunt instrument in the age of open source and free services. If businesses adopt Google Apps, for example, in their free form, will that be ignored by analyst firms used to comparing Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes adoption, say? As I have argued before tracking MySQL adoption is not the same as tracking MySQL revenues. […]

  7. These guys are smoking to much weed!!!

    Whoever is spitting out words like “mysql”,”database”, “enterprise” in the same sentence, needs to be seen by a psychiatrist.
    Don’t forget that R from RDBMS, attribute assigned to Oracle/SQL Server/DB2 and alike, is coming, not from “Relational” but from “Real”.
    You can count the number of whiz kiddies in this world by counting the number of mysql instances.

  8. […] Is MySQL kicking Big Three Ass Or Not?, RedMonk – Monkchips, James Governor (Blog) […]

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