Sep 17, 2010 (08:09 PM EDT)
Research: State Of Enterprise Databases

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State of the Database Our first InformationWeek Analytics State of Database Technology Survey reveals fault lines beneath the critically important enterprise database and data warehouse markets. For years, market leaders IBM, Microsoft, and Oracle have delivered stability and a steady flow of new capabilities in exchange for hefty license fees. But at least 10 other vendors, most of them startups and specialists, are vying to break the three-way hold on the enterprise database market by offering companies innovative technologies in areas including analytics, incorporation of new architectures, and manageability for ever-larger and more-complex systems. For example, Teradata, with annual revenue marching toward $2 billion, has a strong presence in data warehousing--the fastest-growing major market segment, and one that's already been shaken up by the appliance strategy of Netezza, now a public company growing at 40% per year. Open source products are changing market dynamics as well.

Meantime, our survey of more than 750 business technology professionals shows discontent with steep licensing and upgrade fees. Fifty-two percent of survey respondents characterize licensing costs for their primary databases as either somewhat overpriced or outright highway robbery, and they're not targeting only Oracle. That resentment is nothing new, but it's being exacerbated by workloads and data volumes that are multiplying at a staggering rate, sending costs even higher.

"Oracle pricing is off the chain," says a database administrator for Northrop Grumman. "I appreciate how excellent their product is, but enough is enough. They are so preoccupied with acquiring all of these companies that they have lost sight of their core technology. They are ripe for some disruptive technology to come along."

Like what? Try Google BigTable, Hadoop, and NoSQL.

In our full State of Enterprise Database Technology report, we analyze survey responses and the current market reality in three key areas: operational applications, including transaction processing and some forms of reporting and inquiry, typically against recent data; analytical applications, also called data warehouses or data marts, that involve query, reporting, analysis, and data mining, typically against both recent and historical data; and the new area of extreme analytics, which involves rapid analysis of extremely large volumes of data, sometimes using innovative approaches that differ from what's used in the typical data warehouse. In this story, we'll focus on the vendor landscape, the emergence of extreme analytics, database selection and management essentials, and the all-important security aspect.

A Dynamic Landscape

IBM, Microsoft, and Oracle play in just about every segment of the enterprise database market, and they're not sitting still: IBM's Smart Analytic Systems, Microsoft's Parallel Data Warehouse, and Oracle's Exadata are high-profile examples of their innovations. But our survey respondents are interested in branching out and keeping their options open. Fortunately, each of the three market segments we're focusing on have vendors worth watching. Aster Data, Greenplum (recently acquired by EMC), Infobright, Netezza, ParAccel, Sybase (recently acquired by SAP), Teradata, and Vertica specialize in data warehousing. InterSystems provides a product, Caché, for high-performance transaction processing. Sybase offers ASE for transaction processing and a separate product, Sybase IQ, for data warehousing. Hewlett-Packard is in the game with its NonStop software for transaction processing and HP Neoview for data warehousing.

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2010 State of Database Technology

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What you'll find:
  • Respondents' vendor preferences for databases, warehouses, data marts, and more
  • Prospects for NoSQL growth
  • Snapshot of current database security practices

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Richard Winter, president of WinterCorp, is a specialist in large database technology and implementation, with more than 20 years of experience in the field. Write to us at