The worldwide market for relational database management systems (RDBMS) grew by 11.6 per cent to $14.9bn in 2004, according to preliminary figures released today by IDC.
Although the numbers suggest a robust recovery for a market that has struggled over the past few years, the analyst warned that the picture is "not as rosy as it seems".
IDC said that the strength of the recovery is less clear when currency exchange rates and downward pricing pressures are taken into consideration.
"There is no question that the overall trend is favourable. Companies are clearly spending again to meet their backlog of database management requirements," said Carl Olofson, research director at IDC's Information Management and Data Integration Software service.
"However, if you take into account the weakening of the US dollar over the past year, the picture changes to less dramatic growth rates."
According to IDC's research, there were no changes among the top five RDBMS vendors from 2003 to 2004. Oracle captured the top spot with 41.3 per cent of the worldwide market, followed by IBM and Microsoft with 30.6 per cent and 13.4 per cent respectively.
The four and five spots were taken by Sybase and NCR Teradata, each with 3.1 per cent market share.
Microsoft experienced the strongest year-over-year growth on a percentage basis, and Oracle the strongest growth on a whole dollar basis in 2004. IBM and Sybase both grew slower than the overall market, but all five top vendors improved their database business in 2004.
Moving into 2005, IDC expects the middle market to become the battleground for RDBMS dominance as Oracle and IBM move aggressively into the market while Microsoft, which currently dominates the middle market, prepares for the release of SQL Server 2005.
Meanwhile, the leading vendors will be working hard to head off any potential threats from open source RDBMS vendors.
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