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Gartner Reports RDBMS Market Growth in 2004

Windows surged again in 2004 as a platform for new relational database management system licenses, but Linux is growing at an extremely rapid pace as Unix loses popularity, according to new research from Gartner Inc.

Gartner reported its worldwide RDBMS revenue estimates this week. In all, the analyst firm found the RDBMS market grew 10.3 percent between 2003 and 2004 to reach $7.8 billion in total sales. IBM ceded some market share and Oracle gained some to put the two in a statistical tie, according to Gartner.

IBM saw $2.66 billion in revenues for 34.1 percent of the market, while Oracle took $2.63 billion for 33.7 percent. IBM's revenues grew 5.8 percent year-over-year, while Oracle's surged 14.6 percent.

Microsoft is about a billion dollars off the pace with $1.56 billion in revenues for 2004, but that's an 18 percent increase over $1.32 billion in revenues for 2003. NCR Teradata ($230 million in revenues) and Sybase ($178 million) are a distant fourth and fifth.

Platform trends in the RDBMS market mirror those in the operating system market in general. IBM's strength appears tied to waning platforms, while Oracle is most closely associated with the surging Linux platform.

"Much of IBM's growth was generated by its DB2 on the zSeries platform, and IBM's DB2 sales on the Unix platform performed well with nearly 9 percent growth," Gartner analyst Colleen Graham said in a statement. IBM 5.8 percent increase in RDBMS revenues came despite the heavy drag of a 17.6 decline in revenues on its Informix products.

In all, new licenses on the Unix platform fell 0.7 percent. Oracle dominated that platform with 55.9 percent of revenues for new license sales. "Much of this [Unix] decline was attributed to Oracle's strong performance in the Linux segment," Graham found.

"Oracle saw strong growth of nearly 15 percent, much of it coming from its performance on the Linux platform," she said. While the Linux RDBMS segment remains relatively small, the growth is rapid and Oracle's ownership of the market is uncontested. New license revenues on Linux hit $655 million in 2004, representing a growth rate of 118 percent over the $300 million in 2003 revenues. Oracle accounted for 80.5 percent of new license sales on Linux, and the database giant increased its revenues on the platform by 155 percent year-over-year.

While slow in comparison to Linux, the Windows server platform saw solid growth in 2004. Revenues increased 10 percent to $3.1 billion. Microsoft especially did well, extending its lead in the only platform its SQL Server database competes on to 50.9 percent of all new license revenues on Windows.

A Microsoft spokesperson highlighted the achievement given the age of Microsoft's current product, which came out in September 2000. "For Microsoft, the news confirms customers' and partners' sentiments surrounding the value and durability of SQL Server 2000," the spokesperson said. Microsoft is expected to ship an update, SQL Server 2005, later this year.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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