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Relational database market rebounds

Find out who won the annual Gartner Research DBMS survery, and what Linux is doing for Oracle.

The relational database management software market grew by 5% last year, and IBM held onto its lead for the third consecutive year, according to a Gartner Inc. study released Wednesday.

Sales of RDBMS software reached $7.1 billion in 2003.


IBM is not converting customers to DB2 on Linux as they had hoped, so the real growth that IBM had was on mainframe, where they have no real competition.

Kevin Strange


principal analystGartner Research

The three largest database software vendors maintained their spots in the market, with IBM grabbing about 36% of the market, fueled by the success of its DB2 database on iSeries midrange servers and zSeries mainframe hardware, according to the report.

"We're seeing increased spending as enterprises free up resources and the economy continues to rebound," Kevin Strange, principal analyst for Gartner.

Oracle Corp. lost overall market share for the third straight year, taking 32.6% of the market. But it surged ahead in Linux, grabbing $207 million in sales, accounting for 69.1% of the overall Linux database market.

Microsoft's SQL Server gained a market share point in 2003, for a total of 18.7%.

Strange said that a new battle is being waged on the Linux platform, where IBM is losing ground steadily.

In 2002, IBM led the Linux market with $67 million in sales, and Oracle had only a $45 million share.

"IBM is not converting customers to DB2 on Linux as they had hoped, so the real growth that IBM had was on mainframe where they have no real competition," Strange said.

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Oracle is seeing huge increases in Linux sales in data warehouse environments where critical data is stored, Strange said.

"When customers go to Linux, they are paying 50% more license fees to Oracle and because of that Oracle is getting a nice pop," Strange said. "Unless something negative happens in the Linux world, I don't see this trend slowing down."

DB2 achieved strong overall growth as a result of IBM's independent software vendor (ISV) program, which focuses on penetrating the small and midsized business market, Strange said.

In a press release issued in response to the report, Oracle praised its performance on Linux and disputed how Gartner defines the market. Gartner defines the relational database management market as software running on Windows, Linux, Unix and two versions of IBM's programs for mainframe and mini-computers.

"Oracle remains, by far, the market share leader in the modern relational database market on UNIX, Linux and Windows platforms," said Robert Shimp, vice president of Oracle. "Particularly in the new, rapidly expanding Linux market, Oracle is solidifying its position, with the highest growth and largest market share of any vendor."

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