Gartner: Relational open source databases come of age

Open source relational databases have come of age, according to a new report from Gartner. The analyst firm recommends folding an open source database into your application portfolio.

In its report, The State of Open-Source RDBMSs, 2015, the company found that open source relatoinal database management systems (OSRDBMSs) have matured to the point where they can replace commercial databases. CIOs can now consider them as a standard infrastructure choice, the company advised.

This category of product has advanced off the ‘hype cycle’ – the product acceptance curve that starts with a large amount of interest before sinking into a ‘trough of disillusionment’ as people realise a technology’s shortcomings. After that, technology decision makers begin to adopt technologies in a more realistic way, understanding that it can’t solve all problems. At the same time, the technology itself matures, as vendors learn from their mistakes and evolve it beyond its shortcomings.

OSRDBMSs  are now used by more than 25% of the market, the company said. More broadly, the entire open source DB market (including relational and non-relational) has achieved widespread adoption, with $562m in revenue last year, representing 31% growth over 2013. This compares to just 5.4% growth in the overall DBMS market during the same period, the analyst firm said.

The open source database market has evolved thanks to increasing maturity in several key areas, said Gartner. Administrative tools have improved, and the databases themselves have become more functional.

The broader database market has evolved considerably in the last decade, said Dale Vile, co-founder of tech advisory firm Freeform Dynamics.

“The database market is not like it was ten years ago. It was almost certainly going to be relational, and it was going to be one of four options. Today there are so many sizes and shapes of application, and the database market is quite rich with options,” he said.

The market will shrink again, and some open source options in particular will disappear, he warned.  “Some things that are there in the open source world are not sustainable over the longer term, so it will consolidate. But it won’t consolidate back to the four options that we lived with for years.”

The Gartner announcement came as open source database management software firms announced new versions. MariaDB announced its spring release of its subscription-based MariaDB Enterprise, folding in security features including protection against SQL injection attacks, and more scalability features.

MySQL also announced its MySQL Server 5.7 release candidate, which is the first major release in two years. It includes features designed to expand the database into the enterprise market, including scalability enhancements for modern hardware, and security features. This includes a secure install, and C client libraries desinged to establish SSL connections by default.

Gartner made several recommendations to CIOs as part of its report. These included:

  • Deploy at least one open source relational database management system in a testing environment to build your expertise.
  • Add an open source RDBMS to your organisation’s DBMS standards for new use cases.
  • Look for opportunities to replace commercial DBMSs with open source ones for less critical applications.
  • Evaluate the TCO of open source DBMSs, and look for subscription-based pricing models.

photo credit: database 2 via photopin (license)

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Danny Bradbury
Danny Bradbury
Danny Bradbury is a technology journalist with over 20 years' experience writing about security, software development, and networking.

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