The Fortunate 1000 are far more likely to pay the "Oracle Tax" of a proprietary database than other firms, making this one of the few true progressive taxes in our business system.
(The picture is of Oracle's headquarters, aka the Ellison Kremlin, the Capitol of LarryWorld.)
Colleen Graham of Gartner Group blames the poor quality of open source tools used to manipulate the databases, not the quality of PostgreSQL or MySQL themselves, for the failure to make inroads.
The tool makers are proprietary, she argues, leading to a chicken-and-egg phenomenon familiar to any Apple Macintosh owner. No market share means no tools, no tools means no market share.
Another way of looking at this, of course, is there is huge opportunity in developing open source database tools. Graham admits the open source database vendors are growing, albeit from a small base. An open source toolmaker can make a living.
But is that really the problem at all?
The enterprise managers I know have long understood that their database is the family jewels. As the prime asset of the company it deserves the best of care. If you're going to spend big anywhere in your IT universe, that's where to spend it.
If that's true, even a database tools version of the Eclipse project might have difficulty gaining traction. The Oracle bill is what tells the CIO his company is big enough, and special enough, to have a database worth the price.
Thus it may prove more difficult to dislodge Oracle from the enterprise market than it has been to dislodge Microsoft. For some, paying a big "tax bill" for a proprietary database is a badge of honor.