Oracle, IBM lead the way in database market

Oracle Corp. and IBM Corp. were the clear winners among the business intelligence users and Internet companies that fueled growth in the growing database market last year.

San Jose-based Dataquest recently reported that worldwide database sales, driven by strong growth in Internet-based computing and business intelligence applications, totalled $8 billion last year, up from $7.1 billion in 1998.

According to the report, Oracle and IBM shared 61% of the total database software market, with 31.1% for Oracle and 29.9% for IBM. The embattled Microsoft Corp. held a 13.1% share.

Both large mainstream companies and small dot-coms made investments last year in Internet-based data management systems, and in business intelligence applications based on data warehousing that let users analyze high-volume, fast-changing data generated by e-commerce.

Pat Komar, vice-president of corporate information technology at Prudential Insurance Company of America in Newark, New Jersey, said his company began its data warehousing efforts in 1996 with a retail customer information warehouse that included more than a terabyte of data.

That warehouse has since more than doubled in volume, and the company now has an additional 35 multiple-terabyte warehousing projects either planned or already under way. Each project has a six-month development time frame and at least $1 million in IT resources earmarked for it.

Komar said Prudential is running IBM’s DB2 and vertical applications from Oracle. Its primary warehousing tool is Platinum from Computer Associates International Inc. in Islandia, New York. “We’re partnering with … vendors we know are going to be around for a few years,” he said.

Oracle’s re-putation among the dot-coms helped it last year. Chris Duffy, chief technology officer at Kansas City, Missouri-based, a Web marketplace for packaging and identification pro-ducts, said his firm evaluated the Microsoft SQL Server 7.0 and Oracle8i data-bases and went with Oracle because of his staff’s experience with it. SQL Server’s lower implementation cost wasn’t as important as his staff’s ability to build a reliable, scalable Internet server, he said.

According to the report’s author, Dataquest analyst Norma Schroder, Oracle’s new licenses for databases grew 19%. IBM also reported strong sales overall, in part because of strong mainframe database sales. Sales for SQL Server 7.0 were strong as a result of pent-up demand for the release of the product, which was delayed from the previous year.