IBM Tops Oracle in Database Market Study

IBM regained the lead in the market for database software from Oracle Corp. last year, and the AS/400 played no small role, according to a report recently published by Dataquest, a division of Gartner Group Inc. (Stamford, Conn.).

In addition to the AS/400's strong presence in the study, IBM received a boost from its DB2 database running on Unix and Microsoft NT, as well as S/390. IBM reportedly ended 1998 with 32.3 percent of the market, up from 28.9 percent in 1997. Oracle's share, however, declined to 29.3 percent from 29.4 percent the previous year.

"IBM, Oracle and Microsoft will be the dominant players" in the database market for "the foreseeable future," says Carolyn DiCenzo, a Dataquest analyst.

The database market was $7.1 billion in 1998, according to Dataquest research, up 15 percent from 1997, and is forecast to reach $10 billion by 2003. This growth is expected to be fueled by Internet-related applications, e-commerce, content management and the need to support mobile workers, according to Dataquest.

"It was just a solid, solid performance across all the platforms that our data management products run on," says Janet Perna, head of IBM's data management business in Armonk, N.Y. "This is what we've been working toward over the past couple of years [since relinquishing the top spot to Oracle]."

Oracle sees this recent data as reflecting Year 2000 compliance issues as much as anything else. "We see this as just a 1998 thing and fixing (Year 2000) problems," says Dom Lindars, director of server marketing for Oracle (Redwood Shores, Calif.). "IBM may have actually been able to increase revenue on a temporary basis while people are fixing these problems." Lindars adds that large companies have been upgrading their older IBM midrange and mainframe systems to prepare for the date change and may have at the same time "opted" to renew or purchase licenses of newer IBM software.

--L. Greenemeier