The word on the street is that not too many folks in the trenches are being swayed by the various "express" versions of relational databases (RDBs) being hawked for "free" by the likes of IBM, Oracle, Microsoft, and Sybase.
Sure, free is of interest to the corner office, but the restrictions on the use of the typical freebie-DB offerings keep them from being taken seriously by the developers, architects, and administrators who know the real benefits of true open source software (OSS) when they see it. First, they don't want onerous use restrictions. Also, they want the peer review benefits of seeing what's under the hood, not just low costs.
Low price for low-level usage alone will not cut it for long, and barely constitutes a placeholder. And if you're going to make low-cost the way for the high-end RDB usage, you might as well go OSS and take the market by storm.
Indeed, time is running out for a growing segment of the market on the era of high-price, high-complexity RDBs. The SaaS vendors, carriers, and ISVs of tomorrow will not be content until they have a hot rod OSS RDB under the hood of the maturing OSS stacks.
So if IBM, Oracle, Microsoft, and Sybase are not really budging on any serious moves to an open source RDB -- despite the freebie-DB side-step -- how long will it be until this dike of demand cracks and a worthy, high-end DB spills forth as an open source defacto standard and becomes actively embraced in Brazil, Russia, India and China? The market demand for full and mixed open source stacks is building quickly. Why would the basement floor tier (data) to such stacks remain commercial while the mid-tiers and increasingly the applications go open source?
Keep an eye not so much on MySQL and PostgreSQL as they move up-market. The spoiler as market-maker here is Ingres, which was spun off from CA late last year, and which comes to the open source RDB market from the top down -- that is high-performance, clustering, strong memory and throughput use characteristics.
While Oracle dresses up its Database XE version to take the wind (oxygen?) out of the Microsoft SQLServer market, and IBM does more open source stack stuff -- yet dances away from the IBM BD2 OSS opportunity -- Ingres has a highly interesting role to play.
An eruption of disruption in RDBs could soon be in the offing, and just in time for the full-source certification of OSS and more applications to provide a whole greater than the sum of the parts benefit.