Database Trends: Q&A with Gartner's Donald Feinberg - InformationWeek

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Database Trends: Q&A with Gartner's Donald Feinberg

IBM has been making database news of late, introducing an upgrade of the Informix Database Server and announcing a major deal with the City of Los Angeles. IBM says the city is moving from Oracle to IBM's DB2 9 in order to "lower the costs of running the city’s geographic information system (GIS)." Oracle declined to comment on the deal or IBM's claim that its DB business is "soaring." To get an independent assessment of the DB market, we called on analyst Donald Feinberg of Gartner for hi

You don't hear much about Informix. What's significant about the upgrade IBM announced today?

IBM’s critics have been saying that the company has been ignoring Informix. That's simply not true. The new release has many enhancements, many coming directly from user-group requests. With IDS 11, they have sent a message to IDS users that they are serious about the DBMS and that it's part of IBM’s overall DBMS strategy.

IBM says it's gaining DB marketshare. What's your take?

Oracle is still the market leader, there's no question about that. We estimate that they have some 250,000 customers and that it has close to half the market in terms of total revenue. To say Oracle's share is slipping is a bit of an overstatement, but IBM and Microsoft are winning a lot of new accounts and Oracle is probably not winning as many. That has a lot to do with things like SAP. As you would expect, SAP is not exactly going to push new clients toward an Oracle implementation.

IBM also pointed out a survey airing customer unhappiness with Oracle contracts, upgrades and pricing. Are those issues contributing to market movement?

There are Oracle users who are unhappy with contracts and pricing, but it's almost never related to technical issues. If they're unhappy, it's because of their experience with account management.

So what are some of the technical issues figuring in new DB wins?

IBM does have some technology in DB2 that is patented and different from any of the other DBMSs. A lot of that came from the Informix acquisition through a company it had acquired called Illustra. Illustra came up with the concept of the data blade, which let you create a new object type, and that's where IBM got its support for geographic information system (GIS) data.

One of the biggest difference with DB2 version 9 from the previous version is that it has an XML engine that lets it physically store native XML data separately from the relational data. IBM makes a big deal about that, but Sybase does it and Microsoft does it as well. Oracle sort of does it now and 11g will have full native XML support.

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