Customers do not like changing database supplier any more than resellers do. But the growth of ebusiness is forcing companies to reassess the suitability of their databases for internet application development. The same considerations should affect database resellers.
New research by analyst Vanson Bourne showed about 40 per cent of respondents in the UK, Germany and Israel have re-evaluated their databases. A staggering half of them found that their current databases were inadequate, and as a result were altering their procurement strategies.
The database market is mature, and growth is slow. The big-name suppliers have diversified to explore more lucrative revenue streams, such as application development and packaged applications.
Such efforts enjoyed mixed results, with a few suppliers positioning themselves at certain points as 'pure' database companies in an attempt to gain competitive advantage.
Under lock and key
A big issue in the database market has been vendor lock-in. Once an organisation buys into one supplier, it has usually been difficult to move to another. Replacing a database, the key software foundation to any corporate IT infrastructure, causes problems few companies want to tackle.
However, the importance of internet applications is causing many companies to face up to this task. They are asking questions such as, is the database relational enough? Should vendors adopt a web-centric architecture for their products? Was Informix's much maligned object relational talk ahead of its time?
The Vanson Bourne report suggested the greatest impact the web has had is at the application development level, with between 75 per cent and 96 per cent of future development now related to the internet.
Kevin Withnall, director at Vanson Bourne, said: "As firms move up the ebusiness spiral, one in three will be looking at the underlying database technology."
Leap of faith
There are three main drivers behind such change: the need for higher levels of integration between applications, the need to develop new applications quickly, and the need for high-performance applications.
Almost 40 per cent of respondents said their suppliers' databases were not optimised for web applications. Seventy per cent called on vendors to stick to producing databases instead of other technologies.
Oracle, which has rewritten its entire product set around an internet architecture, will take satisfaction from the fact users now recognise the limitations of relational technology. The company needs to convince its installed base that now is the time to forget all about client-server computing and take a leap of faith.
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