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Microsoft takes No. 2 spot in competitive database market

The $31 billion database management systems market saw a little shakeup in 2013. Find out which company Microsoft surpassed for the No. 2 spot.

The database market is still big business. Really big. According to figures from Gartner released this month, database revenue reached $31 billion in 2013. That's a 17% increase compared to two years ago.

Oracle is the unquestioned revenue leader in the database market, with about a 44% share, according to Gartner. But in the past few years, a battle has been brewing for second place. IBM, with its DB2 database management system, had long been No. 2, but last year marked the first that Microsoft with its SQL Server platform usurped that spot from IBM DB2.

"The [database] market has demonstrated its continued resilience in the face of a couple of relatively difficult macroeconomic years," said Merv Adrian, a senior research vice president at Gartner. "Times have been a little tough for everybody, including IT."

Adrian spoke with SearchSQLServer in a recent podcast, and talked about the general database market, what he called some churn at the top, and reasons why Microsoft has been able to take over second place.

"Their progress has been steady and quite interesting," Adrian said about SQL Server. "They re-engineered the product rather significantly to give it a services-oriented base, and then they began a decade-long trek to make it an enterprise-class alternative to the other leading products."

He added that for many years SQL Server was considered suitable for midrange apps, but not for the mission-critical apps running in the biggest data centers. According to Adrian, Microsoft has slowly changed that. With past iterations it introduced features, such as PowerPivot and Power View, that emphasized self-service business intelligence, and brought connections from Microsoft Excel to SQL Server that business users could take advantage of. With SQL Server 2014, Microsoft added to it an in-memory online transaction processing, or OLTP, feature that furthered its place as an enterprise database. All that has been evidenced by the change in the database market last year.

Mark Fontecchio may be reached at or on Twitter @markfontecchio.

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