Linux biggest gainer in relational database market

The fastest growing platform for relational databases last year was Linux, while Unix recorded the biggest fall

The Relational Database Management System (RDBMS) market grew by more than 5 percent in 2003 after suffering a 6 percent fall in the previous year, according to new revenue figures published by Gartner on Friday -- although much of that apparent rise may have been caused by the weak dollar.

The report found that RDBMS licences for the Linux operating system grew by 158 percent to $299.3m while revenues from Unix fell by 5.9 percent. The Windows server platform showed a "slight improvement" of 3.8 percent, taking new licence revenues to $2.8bn and Microsoft's market share to 18.7 percent. But by far the biggest player in this area continues to be IBM, which enjoyed a 4.9 percent increase in revenues and accounts for a massive 35.7 percent of the entire market.

The Informix RDBMS, which was acquired by IBM in 2001, continued its decline both in terms of revenues and market share. In 2002, the company generated $160.4m in new licences and claimed 2.4 percent of the market. In 2003, the revenue fell by 16.1 percent, slipping to £134.6m and market share fell to 1.9 percent. This is perhaps no surprise as IBM made no secret that it planned to push new customers to its own product rather than Informix.

Principal Gartner analyst Colleen Graham believes that the overall bounce back in licensing revenues is probably due to companies improving their data management systems in order to comply with information retention regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley.

"Many companies are examining ways to augment and improve reporting and data management capabilities to meet increasing regulatory compliance requirements. The increasing strategic importance of data warehouse and strategic business intelligence initiatives has provided some of the growth in the RDBMS market," Graham said.

However, Gartner did warn that the figures may be too positive because of the effects of currency movements. The company said it converted revenues generated outside the US into US dollars, which means that a 'significant part' of the growth in the market could actually be the result of a weak dollar, rather than increasing demand .