Database Growth Slower but Steady

For market leaders IBM and Oracle, growth could still come in around 7%, says a Gartner study.
Publish date:

Updated from May 25

The $7.7 billion database market will probably slow a bit this year, but will still grow by a healthy 6% or 7%, according to a study by Gartner Research.

The study also found that database leaders


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are locked in a statistical dead heat for first place, although Oracle is growing faster than its rival and IBM has a bit more share.

Gartner analyst Colleen Graham found that the relational database market grew by a surprisingly strong 10.3% to nearly $7.8 billion in 2004. No one factor, other than the continuing growth in corporate data, was decisive, although she noted that currency fluctuations contributed a few points of gain. Also contributing to the growth surge was the continuing move to enterprise applications, which require the use of an underlying database, by small and midsize businesses.

The most dynamic part of the market, though still relatively small, continues to be sales of databases to run on the Linux operating system. That segment grew by 118% in 2004 to $650 million in new license revenue and was dominated by Oracle, which had a market share of 80.5%.

Oracle also led the shrinking Unix database market, while


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, not surprisingly, retained its strong lead in the Windows database market with a share of 51%. Overall, Oracle's database revenue grew by 14.6% in 2004.

Oracle's strong showing in the survey underscores that despite its well-publicized foray into the applications market with its takeover of


, Oracle is fundamentally a database company. In its most recent quarter, Oracle reported that including the sales of licenses, updates, support and service, the database business accounted for $2.1 billion, or 75%, of the company's total revenue.

Much of IBM's strength, Graham says, was derived from sales of software to run on mainframe and midsize machines. For reasons that aren't altogether clear, Graham says, Big Blue's growth in database software was just 5.8% and well below the market as a whole.

The lower growth rate for the market as a whole this year is more a function of the unusual strength of the market in 2005, than a significant slowing of demand, says Graham. She added that her model of the market includes a smaller boost from currency shifts but says the difference would be relatively small.