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Open source database use is a growing trend

Study shows that more users are using open source software for data management, with most organizations using more than one technology to help meet different needs.

Open source databases are a growing segment of the overall database management system market, but according to a new survey, users are working with multiple databases adapted for specific purposes and not looking at single databases as multi-purpose.

The Open Source Data Management Software survey was conducted by Percona, a vendor based in Raleigh, N.C. that provides supported versions of multiple open source database platforms including PostgreSQL, MySQL and MongoDB.

Some 92% of survey respondents saying they are using multiple database technologies, with 89% using more than one open source database platform. The study, conducted earlier this year, also found that cloud deployments are a growing trend, with more than 50% running at least one workload in the public cloud. 

"It's hard for one database to do everything well, so the trend is definitely to use the best database for the job, rather than try and fit into a single technology," said Matt Yonkovit, chief experience officer at Percona.

Possible limitations of survey

Given that the study was conducted by vendor that supports open source databases,

Merv Adrian, a data management analyst at Gartner, said the study may have a bit of a built-in predisposition to those favorable toward open source products. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that open source database adoption isn't a real trend, he said. 

"Gartner agrees that adoption of OSDBMS [open source database management software] software is a growing and increasingly significant component of the DBMS market," Adrian said.

While open source is a growing market segment, it's still small. Gartner estimates that only $261 million of the total 2018 DBMS market revenue of $46.1 billion was attributable to vendors whose products are entirely based on open source DBMSes. Adrian noted, however, that the reach and influence of open source database software extends beyond its revenue.

Adoption of OSDBMS software is a growing and increasingly significant component of the DBMS market.
Merv AdrianAnalyst, Gartner

"We believe that paid customers account for only 1% to 5% of the actual user base for open source software," he said.

Gartner is now putting together its own survey about the open source database market. Adrian noted that in Gartner's survey of more than 500 users of DBMS products for its 2019 report on the operational DBMS (relational and non-relational databases used for traditional business transaction processing) market, Gartner found that 42% of those surveyed still have no policy about using open source databases.

Some 21% of respondents use open source databases with no commercial support. In a separate survey based on a smaller number of IT organizations, Gartner found that more than a third of participants use open source DBMS products throughout or in most departments of their organization.

"Our cloud questions in that survey showed that hybrid plus cloud-only usage was over 60%, similar to the Percona survey but a bit higher," Adrian said. "We also agree that hybrid deployment and multi-cloud deployment will be key and Percona's data shows how much these issues already matter."

Multi-database use is common.
Multi-database use is common.

Percona's interpretation

That organizations are using more than one open source database technology is not a surprise to Yonkovit, he said. While vendors work to add features, users are choosing the database that fits the application, regardless of whether it's on premises, in the cloud, proprietary or open source -- proving that no single species of database serves all needs, he said.

The survey also surfaced a number of concerns that users have about open source software.

Of the reasons not to adopt open source, Yonkovit noted that lack of support topped the list at 46% for management, and 39% for non-management respondents across all organization sizes. Likewise, 67% of companies cited 24-hour, seven-day support as the most compelling reason for why they use enterprise software or subscriber-only versions of open source software. "Interestingly, it should be noted that the top reason to adopt open source is cost savings and avoiding vendor lock-in," Yonkovit said.

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