Channel Marker

Jun 26 2008   10:46AM GMT

Database market share war resumes

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

It’s that time of year for the database market share squabble. IDC has released its numbers–at least to the vendors–and two of the three big database players are claiming victory.

From the snippets the vendors themselves release, it’s hard to draw conclusions. It’s like the blind men and the elephant: You can’t judge the entire gestalt from mere fragments.

On its earnings call last night, Oracle president Charles Phillips crowed about IDC data showing Oracle’s database share at 44.3% vs. 21% for IBM vs. 18.5% for Microsoft.

“We gained against those two competitors and the ‘other’ category,” Phillips told financial analysts. “Thirty years in the business and we’re still getting share.”

Perhaps. Some of us can’t get our hands on the report yet so are wary of vendor claims. While Oracle is undoubtedly still king of the hill, it appears that Microsoft continues its fast growth from a smaller base, as a PR woman informed reporters via email.

“According to IDC, Microsoft SQL Server outpaced all other RDBMS vendors to grow license revenue by 14% in 2007. Once again SQL Server has experienced double-digit growth in this market, a significant achievement in a year of new releases from other vendors.,” she wrote.

Microsoft is trying to drum up interest in SQL Server 2008, which could finally launch at the company’s Worldwide Partner Conference in two weeks.

There’s little doubt that Microsoft leads the pack in unit sales since it sells a ton of SQL Server into small companies and departments of larger entities. When it comes to revenue, however, it no doubt remains eclipsed by the big boys of databases.

Of the top three database players, only IBM didn’t chip in with its take on the numbers. That may or may not mean something. Suffice it to say, Microsoft is typically the fast-mover from a smallish base; Oracle continues to rule in enterprise shops; and IBM’s DB2 is strong in, well in IBM shops.

Stay tuned for the full elephant.

Barbara Darrow can be reached at

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