Sizing Up The Database Players - InformationWeek

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Software // Information Management
Commentary
5/26/2005
06:04 PM
Ted Kemp
Ted Kemp
Commentary
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Sizing Up The Database Players

Increasingly, databases that lack built-in BI strengths are at a disadvantage to their competitors.

Picking your database technology based on its BI capabilities is like putting the proverbial horse before the cart, right? Or is it?

Not at all, according to consultant and Business Intelligence Pipeline contributor Jacques Surveyer, who says that these days, BI is selling databases. Sure, databases, data warehouses and other information repositories provide the feeds that make analytics possible. But increasingly, databases that lack built-in BI strengths start out at a disadvantage when the buyers come calling.

Surveyer examines the major entrants -- IBM, Microsoft and Oracle -- and outlines their BI assets. He also goes beyond that, to look at the traditional benchmarks by which customers make purchase decisions: Which databases have the highest performance? Which are most reliable? And finally, of course, which are cheapest? Combined with his delineation of each vendor's business intelligence strengths, you get a better idea of how the Big Three measure up against each other.

Speaking of databases, we've seen a blizzard of database news just since our last newsletter. Where there's talk of databases, there's increasingly talk of open-source. Startup EnterpriseDB debuted a new open-source database this week, and the company came out swinging against the Goliath known as Oracle. EnterpriseDB's new database, now in testing phase, is designed to support applications written for Oracle -- at a lower cost. Maybe the startup should worry more about going head-to-head with MySQL.

IBM had some database news of its own this week that's of particular relevance to BI shops that examine relational data. And I'm thinking that's a bunch of you. Big Blue says its "Viper" version of DB2, due in 2006, will end the need to cram unstructured data into the row-and-column structure that relational databases demand. Rather, it will be able to query both unstructured and structured data in its native format.

And that's not all. Research firm Gartner released its figures on the leading relational database management systems for 2004, and the winner is … well, actually, it's a tie. IBM and Oracle came within $30 million of each other in terms of new license sales, meaning they statistically matched each other in the $7.8 billion market.

In the meantime, stick with us here at Business Intelligence Pipeline, and we'll keep you abreast of all the BI news, database-related or otherwise.

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