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Gartner: Database Market Stable, With Linux Hot Spot

Excluding the impact of currency conversion, the overall market for relational databases was nearly flat for 2003, according to new research from Gartner Dataquest.

Excluding the impact of currency conversion, the overall market for relational databases was nearly flat for 2003, according to new research from Gartner Dataquest.

Factoring in currency shifts, the total market grew 5 percent to $7.1 billion from $6.7 billion as measured by new license sales.

In the overall market, IBM (including its Informix offerings) held on to the top market-share slot at 35.7 percent share, or 5 percent growth. Gartner attributed most of that to strong sales into the iSeries (aka AS/400) and mainframe base.

Oracle placed second overall at 32.6 percent market share, a 2.4 percent increase year over year. Microsoft was third at 18.1 percent share and 11.1 percent growth.

The Linux market posted huge gains, albeit off a small base. The overall Linux RDBMS market grew 158 percent to $300 million in new license revenue from $116 million in 2002.

In that closely watched space, Oracle dominates with 69.1 percent share, up 300 percent year over year, growth that Gartner attributes partly to inclusion of "extras" such as the Oracle 9i RAC clustering, which carries an additional charge. IBM Linux share grew 27.5 percent to 28.5 percent share.

"We're seeing that Linux is pulling mostly from Unix sales," said Colleen Graham, an analyst at Gartner. "Oracle's huge growth is coming from their own Unix base. They're telling customers it's more cost-effective to put Oracle on a Linux cluster and pay for RAC than on a big Unix box," she said.

The larger Windows segment grew 4 percent this year vs. 1 percent last year. Not surprisingly, Microsoft led in this space with 47.4 percent share, up 11.1 percent year over year. Oracle placed second with 25.3 percent share, up 2.1 percent, and IBM's overall share (including Informix offerings) fell 11.7 percent. Sybase share fell 2.8 percent to 3.2 percent of the total Windows base.

Graham said the Windows database market is Microsoft's to lose. "RDBMS on Windows is a very tough sale for anyone but Microsoft," she said.

Tom Rizzo, director of product management at Microsoft, said the company was pleased with the numbers for both Windows overall as a platform and for SQL Server.

The overall numbers represent an improvement over 2002 when database sales fell 7 percent.

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