A database is any collection of data, and a database management system (DBMS) is a set of tools for storing, retrieving, updating and maintaining that data. While there aren’t that many vendors competing in the DBMS space, recently they have begun jockeying in earnest for the mid-market customer.

The trigger for this latest round of competition in the DBMS market is database consolidation. Many mid-sized enterprises are either expanding or streamlining their database infrastructures. Database consolidation offers enterprises the opportunity to achieve these goals in a cost-effective way.

According to estimates, more than 50 per cent of mid-sized enterprises are currently involved in database consolidation, and most of these organizations are still assessing how to perform their implementation. So, significant decisions about vendors and products remain to be made.

The players

Microsoft is making excellent headway in the mid-market database consolidation race. Although IBM and Oracle‘s forays into the mid-market are noteworthy, SQL Server is the most logical choice for most IT shops. But you should obviously evaluate your current infrastructure and make a well-reasoned decision that’s right for your organization.

Microsoft’s arrival in the mid-market with a viable entry-level DBMS did not happen overnight. While IBM and Oracle spent the 1990s pummelling each other for DBMS supremacy in the large enterprise market, Microsoft built its empire by anchoring itself in the mid-market with a complete system-level product line. As a result, while IBM and Oracle continue to fight over percentage points in the large enterprise space, SQL Server is riding the coattails of Microsoft’s mid-market domination. Although IBM and Oracle have launched affordable entry-level enterprise DBMSs, Microsoft’s entrenchment in the SME market is too deep.

Database consolidation: recommendations

  1. Microsoft shops For organizations using one or more of the Microsoft system-level product lines, like Windows Server System, Office System, and Visual Studio Team System, consolidating on SQL Server 2005 is a natural choice because it supports client and server versions of Windows, provides tight integration with Visual Studio, provides strong support for the .NET Framework, and is a key part of Office-related features, such as Windows SharePoint Services.
  2. Oracle shops For organizations using Oracle products, such as Oracle applications, Oracle Application Server, and/or Oracle Collaboration Suite, Oracle has obvious advantages for the DBMS tier. Providing total architecture at the lowest total cost of ownership is part of Oracle’s current strategy.
  3. DBMS coverage across multiple platforms If an enterprise is running Linux or Unix on the server side, or client operating systems such as Symbian or Palm OS, SQL Server is not an option. IBM DB2 and Oracle Database both provide multiple platform coverage. Although Microsoft may revisit this part of its SQL Server product strategy, it does not fit into the foreseeable future. Microsoft has clearly stated that SQL Server will not run on non-Windows platforms.
  4. Mixed environments Organizations requiring strong DBMS support for both .NET and J2EE should consolidate on IBM DB2 or Oracle Database. Although IBM led this charge, Oracle is making significant investments in providing integration with .NET and Visual Studio. What was initially a key differentiator for IBM is now a key success factor for Oracle.
  5. Java-focused enterprises For organizations that do not require deep Visual Studio or .NET integration, IBM, Microsoft, and Oracle are all strong contenders. Although all three vendors can support a Java development platform, IBM offers the deepest integration with Eclipse.

With a paid membership of over 25,000 worldwide, Info-Tech Research Group provides information technology research and analysis to North Americaís mid-sized enterprise market.

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