GigaOm Radar for Cloud and Operational Databases: Relationalv2.0

Table of Contents

  1. Summary
  2. Market Categories and User Segments
  3. Key Criteria Comparison
  4. GigaOm Radar
  5. Vendor Insights
  6. Analyst’s Take
  7. About Andrew Brust

1. Summary

This GigaOm Radar report will help enterprise buyers become familiar with vendor offerings for cloud and operational databases. The vendors reviewed in this report offer relational database solutions that provide both traditional capabilities, like data storage and retrieval functionality, along with more modern functionality, like business analytics. A major selling point of these solutions is their adherence to the principles of atomicity, consistency, isolation, and durability (ACID) compliance—that is, their ability to ensure that each transaction made occurs fully, or not at all, so that the database is always in a consistent state. For enterprises that are particularly concerned with maintaining optimal transaction control or those that store large amounts of sensitive information like financial or personal data, this consistency-based approach is a perfect fit because it will guarantee the integrity of their customers’ information.

Relational databases—introduced in the 1970s as a breakthrough in academic computer science circles, and first commercialized in the 1980s—are a critical technology in the enterprise, in the cloud, and as the backbone of a huge array of business software applications and development solutions. However, as data volumes have increased, and with the advent of both the cloud and the open-source analytics stack, relational database management systems (RDBMSs) have seen challenges to their incumbency that for many years seemed intractable.

At first, the field was dominated by three commercial solutions: IBM’s DB2 (now stylized as “Db2”), Oracle, and SQL Server (originally offered as a joint venture between Microsoft and Sybase, and now associated almost exclusively with the former). Later, the introduction of open-source projects MySQL and PostgreSQL broadened the field, stoked competition, and changed precedents in terms of licensing costs. After Oracle acquired MySQL AB (through its 2010 acquisition of Sun Microsystems), a third open-source contender, MariaDB, came on the scene. Today, these six offerings remain dominant.

Even as cloud providers and startups have introduced new relational solutions, they offer interfaces to make them compatible with incumbents Oracle, MySQL and PostgreSQL. Not to be outdone, the classic tools have themselves been transformed to run in the cloud in an increasingly low-maintenance manner and take on globally distributed workloads, analytics functionality, or both. The developers of these solutions have had to up their cloud game, as their very own products are increasingly being offered as services by a collection of providers.

This has all led to a vendor matrix of sorts. Should we think of Microsoft as the company behind SQL Server and its cloud cousin, Azure SQL Database, and a partisan player, competing mightily against Oracle and the three open-source solutions? Or do we instead look to Azure Database for MySQL, PostgreSQL and MariaDB, along with Oracle Database Services for Microsoft Azure as evidence of the opposite? With Oracle Autonomous Database a force to be reckoned with, do we continue to think of “Big Red” as out to steamroll everyone else in defense of its old franchise, or do we think of the company, as owner of MySQL and its new HeatWave cloud service, as having moderated and enlarged its tent?

Yes, the old database solutions remain, but the market dynamics have shifted significantly. This report will help you inventory all the offerings, take note of how they’ve changed, and understand the range of providers that offer compatibility layers and/or managed services around them. Customer requirements and workloads have also changed, so we’ll help you pick the best system based on a combination of the criteria you have always had and still prioritize, as well as alert you to the new purchase considerations that should also be important, and the systems that best address both.

By the end of this report, you should have a strong grounding in the major pillars of the relational database market and the various permutations and variations that define it, along with an appreciation of the nuances you need to judge and understand it. This report, in combination with its companion research—GigaOm’s “Key Criteria Report for Evaluating Cloud and Operational Database Solutions” and the “Radar Report for Cloud and Operational Databases: NoSQL—provides the depth and breadth of coverage needed to understand the database market landscape as a whole.

How to Read this Report

This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding, consider reviewing the following reports:

Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.

GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.

Solution Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.

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