Linux Steals Share from UNIX in Database Market

Linux siphoned market share from UNIX in the relational database management system (RDBMS) market, a niche that grew 158 percent from $116 million in new license revenue in 2002 to nearly $300 million in 2003.

Overall, the market for database server software rebounded last year, growing from $6.7 billion to almost $7.1 billion in new license sales, according to research firm Gartner. That’s 5 percent growth over 2002, Gartner said in its report, issued earlier this week.

Tabulating RDBMS software on all hardware, the company said RDBMS on Unix declined 6 percent in 2003, with Oracle leading in market share on UNIX and the open source operating system.

Gartner said Oracle has 57 percent of the database software market on UNIX even though its new license revenue declined 8 percent. Alternatively, Oracle took the lead in Linux sales from IBM , realizing 361 percent growth on $206 million in sales, good for 69 percent of the market.

Oracle’s commitment to Linux is clear: the company announced Wednesday that it will have its entire base software development moved to Linux by the end of 2004. Wim Coekaerts, director of Linux Engineering at Oracle, told in an interview at CeBIT America 2004 that more than 9,000 developers are expecting to create Oracle software on Linux.

Coekaerts attributed the movement and success to the Redwood Shores, Calif., company’s high-flying “Unbreakable Linux” campaign of 2002, in which Oracle promised to spread secure Linux across the enterprise.

Oracle’s goal has been to sell clusters of servers, or the company’s Real Application Cluster (RAC) software to customers looking to get away from using single, large machines, such as mainframe computers.

Gartner analysts and report authors Colleen Graham and Kevin Strange wrote in the report that few users are acquiring Oracle for the Linux platform without the RAC option.

“We estimate that about 20 percent to 30 percent of Oracle RAC deployments are on the Linux platform,” the authors wrote.

Linux seems to be trending tall in the enterprise space, as recent hardware server figures from Gartner indicate Linux sales are on the rise thanks in part to low-end x86-based servers.

Successful Unbreakable Linux campaign or not, Gartner attributed the overall market decline to dips by IBM, which they said is not capitalizing on the Informix acquisition by converting Informix clients to DB2.

Despite Oracle’s success, IBM remains atop the database software market, with a 33.8 percent market share. The Armonk, N.Y., company grew its DB2 Universal Database server software sales on the iSeries and zSeries platforms by 5 percent.

Oracle’s is No. 2 at 32.6 percent. Microsoft weighed in with an 18.7 percent share in what the Gartner report said is a slow growing market for database software on Windows. Database software on Windows grew over one percent in 2002, 4 percent in 2003. However, Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft enjoyed an 11 percent growth of SQL Server sales in 2003.

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