Magic Quadrant for Operational Database Management Systems

21 October 2013 ID:G00251780
Analyst(s): Donald Feinberg, Merv Adrian, Nick Heudecker

VIEW SUMMARY

The operational DBMS market (formerly OLTP) is evolving dramatically, with new, innovative entrants and incumbents supporting the growing use of unstructured data and NoSQL DBMS engines. Information management leaders must understand the market implications affecting DBMS technology decisions.

Market Definition/Description

This document was revised on 23 October 2013. The document you are viewing is the corrected version. For more information, see the Corrections page on gartner.com.

The operational database management system (DBMS) market is defined by relational and nonrelational database management products that are suitable for a broad range of enterprise-level transactional applications, including purchased business applications such as enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management and customized transactional systems. In addition, we include DBMS products that support interactions and observations as the new transaction types (see Note 1) — as well as the more traditional transactions used to support business processes. These products are also used both for purchased business applications, such as ERP, catalog management and security event management, and for customized systems built by an organization's development team (see "The OLTP DBMS Market Becomes the Operational DBMS Market").

Gartner's definition of a DBMS can be found in Note 2. There is no presupposition that these DBMSs must support the relational model or that they must support the full set of possible data types in use today. Further, there is no restriction that the DBMS must be a closed-source product; commercially supported open-source DBMS (OSDBMS) products are included in this market. Operational DBMSs must: provide data availability to independent front-end application software; include functionality to support backup and recovery; and have some form of transaction durability — although atomicity, consistency, isolation and durability (ACID) is not a requirement. For OSDBMSs, maintenance and support must be available from a vendor that owns, or has substantial control over, the source code and must be offered with a full General Public License (GPL), or alternative.

For this Magic Quadrant, we define operational DBMSs as systems that include support for new structures and data types, such as XML, text, audio, image and video content, in addition to traditional structures. They must include mechanisms to isolate workload requirements and control various parameters of end-user access within managed instances of the data. Cloud-only DBMSs are not included; nor are highly specialized engines such as graph or object databases, although the latter may perform some transactions to target small subsets of operational use cases. Products that "add a layer to" another product, and those that require or embed a complete or near-complete implementation of another commercially marketed product (such as Oracle MySQL) are not included. Finally, "streaming" engines, whose use cases are dominated by immediate event processing and are rarely, if ever, used for subsequent management of the data involved, are also excluded.

For the purposes of this analysis we treat all of a vendor's products as a set. If a vendor markets more than one DBMS product that can be used as an operational DBMS, we describe these in the section specific to that vendor but we evaluate all of that vendor's products together as a single entity. Strengths and cautions relating to a specific offering or offerings are also noted in the individual vendor sections. It may be important for organizations to evaluate separate vendor offerings as the portfolio of choices becomes broader and purchasers pursue best-of-breed strategies more frequently.

Operational DBMSs may support many different delivery models, such as stand-alone DBMS software, certified configurations, cloud (public and private) images or versions and database appliances. These are discussed and evaluated together in the analysis of each vendor.

Magic Quadrant

Figure 1. Magic Quadrant for Operational Database Management Systems
Figure 1.Magic Quadrant for Operational Database Management Systems

Source: Gartner (October 2013)

Vendor Strengths and Cautions

Actian

Located in Redwood City, California, U.S., Actian (www.actian.com) offers Ingres and Pervasive PSQL (acquired April 2013), with a renewed focus on operational DBMSs after recent analytical DBMS, object DBMS and application-focused repositioning.

Strengths
  • Large customer base — Actian claims more than 210,000 customers. Broad geographic and industry coverage could form a base for a well-funded marketing and sales effort.
  • Timely portfolio — Actian's emerging positioning leverages key marketplace trends including big data, data integration, NoSQL capabilities and cloud deployment.
  • Strong leadership team — Actian has added energized executives and engineering from its acquired companies, after a brief tenure from its last CTO.
Cautions
  • Deployment challenges — Actian has the lowest scores from surveyed customers in ease of use, and very low scores for ease of implementation.
  • Complex portfolio in progress. — The company's recent acquisitions make a rich but intricate mix of offerings that it will be challenged to present as a coherent portfolio.
  • Merger and acquisition (M&A) challenges — Its pricing methods and "ease of doing business" scored near the bottom with surveyed customers; this demands prioritized attention.

Aerospike

Located in Mountain View, California, U.S., and founded in 2009, Aerospike (www.aerospike.com) markets a hybrid in-memory/flash DBMS, the Aerospike real-time data platform, for the operational transaction market.

Strengths
  • Visionary DBMS functionality — Aerospike's offering utilizes hybrid use of DRAM and flash as addressable memory and not as file system support. Synchronous copies and multiple data center support adds high availability (HA) and disaster recovery (DR). Its hybrid DBMS structure supports SQL, JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) and NoSQL data.
  • Marketing and hardware ecosystem — Aerospike has strong partnerships with hardware component vendors for DRAM and flash. Also, its marketing is targeted at that segment of the market requiring high transaction rates with near 100% availability.
  • Support and implementation — References gave high scores for professional services supporting the installation and support of the DBMS. Also, almost 50% found no issues with implementing the product; which is considered very good for a new product.
Cautions
  • Lacking full functionality — Aerospike is strong in HA functionality, but currently lacking in some of the basic SQL and NoSQL functionalities.
  • Weak sales channels — Aerospike has yet to create the necessary partnerships to deliver an appliance; given the characteristics of the DBMS, this would be beneficial. Aerospike must grow its sales force and create new sales channels to penetrate the market.
  • Pricing — Aerospike's references did not believe its pricing model is sustainable.

Altibase

Located in Seoul, South Korea and Palo Alto, California, U.S., Altibase (www.altibase.com) provides the Altibase HDB, an operational DBMS capable of leveraging in-memory, traditional disk or hybrid storage. Altibase DSM is a complementary data streaming application for data ingestion. The company makes its products available for on-premises use.

Strengths
  • Support and performance — References gave the company high marks for the overall performance of its operational DBMS, as well as for support, professional services and ease of use.
  • Broad use case applicability — In addition to applying its technology to unique billing scenarios in telecom, as well as real-time flaw detection in manufacturing scenarios, customers cite their use of HDB for analytics and storage of text and rich media content.
  • Product maturity — Nearly 65% of its referenced customers reported no problems with Altibase's product.
Cautions
  • Limited global penetration — While successful in Asian markets, Altibase has yet to establish brand awareness and penetration beyond this region.
  • Lack of deployment options — Unlike many of its competitors, Altibase does not currently offer its products in alternative form factors, such as appliances. Cloud deployment options are limited to Amazon Web Services (AWS).
  • Intense competition on the horizon — References most frequently evaluate Altibase alongside IBM, Microsoft and Oracle, each with their own in-memory products currently available or coming soon.

Basho Technologies

Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S., Basho (http://basho.com) offers Riak — a distributed, masterless key-value store available as a free, open-source, Apache-licensed download, also Enterprise Edition and Riak CS — a multitenant cloud object store. Basho offers an S3 API and a hosted sandbox; its partners offer hosting.

Strengths
  • Resilience — Riak provides multi-data-center distribution and replication with automated balancing; it will not fail on server failure or network partition.
  • Rich basic features — These include secondary indexes, MapReduce, support for JSON, multiple programming languages and pluggable storage engines.
  • Solid customer base (over one-third of the Fortune 500) and community — Which contributes language drivers and other project support.
Cautions
  • Single architecture focus — Riak's key-value-only architecture limits its broader adoption and will keep it as a Niche Player in the operational DBMS market.
  • Competition — Oracle's aggressive entry into this market (with Oracle NoSQL) will not be the last; other megavendors will look to capture key-value use cases.
  • Incomplete feature set — Despite average support and performance scores, Riak tied for most survey citations for absent or weak functionality. A strong near-term road map will help.

Clustrix

Located in San Francisco, California, U.S., Clustrix (www.clustrix.com) offers a low-administration, shared-nothing, distributed relational DBMS (RDBMS) with automatic sharding and replication; available as software, as an appliance and in the cloud. The company also provides a managed database as a service.

Strengths
  • Performance — Clustrix provides extreme scale-out clustering for performance and availability, beyond that which MySQL can provide today (and rivaling the NoSQL DBMSs), allowing it to compete for new developments as well as MySQL apps.
  • Simplicity — The Clustrix database is designed to be largely self-managed, reducing operational complexity and total cost of ownership (TCO). Integration is simplified with the implementation of the MySQL wire protocol.
  • Ease of engagement — In addition to top marks for performance, references were extremely satisfied in their interactions with Clustrix and felt the product provides value for money — as reinforced by a willingness to purchase additional licenses.
Cautions
  • Broad operational capabilities — The Clustrix database offers no support for data types beyond traditional relational types. More than half of its references deployed another operational DBMS to support nonrelational use cases.
  • Niche focus — Focusing on the analytical and scalability gaps that MySQL cannot easily fill places the company's long-term prospects at risk.
  • Difficulty securing larger contracts — Surveyed customers are overwhelmingly from smaller enterprises, underscoring Clustrix's difficulty in winning clients from large enterprises; although, the new software version will help with this.

Couchbase

Located in Mountain View, California, U.S., Couchbase (www.couchbase.com) offers an open-source, distributed document store database with key-value caching that is shipped as a community-supported Community Edition and commercial Enterprise Edition for on-premises, mobile or cloud deployment.

Strengths
  • Strong functionality — Couchbase's product offers high performance, automatic partitioning, ACID transactions on record (that is, document) boundaries, immediate consistency, variable durability, cross-data-center replication and MapReduce support.
  • Large customer base — Gartner estimates that Couchbase has over 350 customers and 9,500 paid nodes in several industry verticals. Community Edition generates significant leads in worldwide meet-ups.
  • Financial strength — The company added $25 million from its funding round in August 2013, growing its international presence.
Cautions
  • Quality — Surveyed customers cited problems with the Java client API in failover situations, also shortcomings in documentation currency.
  • Competition — Pressure from the megavendors and MongoDB will increase significantly during 2014. New partners, including Accenture, may help.
  • Missing functionality — Surveyed customers reported difficulties integrating with other DBMSs and the need for additional programming language support.

DataStax

Located in San Mateo, California, U.S., DataStax (www.datastax.com) provides DataStax Enterprise, a commercialized version of the open-source Apache Cassandra database. The product is downloadable for on-premises operation, as well as through multiple cloud providers.

Strengths
  • Single supplier — DataStax is presently the only commercial vendor for Apache Cassandra. It has developed a suite of value-added products as part of its offering.
  • High-performance database — DataStax received high scores from surveyed customers for the performance of its operational DBMS. Customers also noted the database had little to no unplanned downtime.
  • Vibrant community — The company has helped develop a robust open-source community around Apache Cassandra through developer and enterprise conferences.
Cautions
  • Unclear value proposition — It is unclear if the company is positioning DataStax Enterprise to target big data scenarios, where it faces stiff competition from vendors of Apache HBase and Hadoop, or if it is targeting the operational DBMS market.
  • Difficult implementation — Among all the vendors in this Magic Quadrant, customers scored DataStax lowest for ease of implementation. DataStax Enterprise also received low scores for integration with other DBMSs. The recently released version 3.0 targets these shortcomings.
  • Product maturity — References cited poor or inaccurate documentation, while 40% of references experienced unreliability or software quality issues.

EnterpriseDB

Located in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., EnterpriseDB (www.enterprisedb.com) supports and markets the PostgreSQL open-source DBMS, packaged as an open-source community edition and as Postgres Plus Advanced Server, including the Oracle Compatibility Feature.

Strengths
  • Community leadership — EnterpriseDB is the primary contributor to the PostgreSQL community and is responsible for many new features of PostgreSQL, including JSON.
  • Functionality — The functionality of EnterpriseDB's Postgres Plus has increased greatly, and with the Oracle Compatibility Feature is now more than sufficient to run both mission-critical and non-mission-critical applications.
  • Stability and compatibility — References specifically call out compatibility with Oracle, the stability of the DBMS and product support as strengths.
Cautions
  • Open-source dilemma — EnterpriseDB must conform to community-led release cycles for its community editions as they go through the open-source process. This can slow the process of enhancements to the base open-source product, but not the enterprise edition.
  • Market exposure — EnterpriseDB lacks breadth in sales and marketing, reducing its ability to get its message to potential customers. Gartner inquiries find that few clients are familiar with EnterpriseDB.
  • Tools and automation — References described a number of issues, such as a lack of local language support, automated failover and the lack of robust tools for managing the DBMS environment.

IBM

Located in Armonk, New York, U.S., IBM (www.ibm.com) provides mature RDBMSs DB2 and Informix, which may be bundled with hardware (pureData), or be in IBM's SmartCloud or in third-party clouds. NoSQL extensions have recently been added to both products.

Strengths
  • Broad functionality — DB2 offers pureScale clustering, BLU Acceleration, Oracle Procedural Language (PL)/SQL support, XML, Resource Description Framework (RDF), JSON and MongoDB API, mobile synch and Hadoop integration. Informix's small-footprint, zero-administration model features time series and geospatial.
  • Hardware integration — DB2 for z/OS shares analytics with DB2 Analytics Accelerator, PureData System for Transactions with PureApplication System using workload patterns.
  • Global presence — IBM provides support, implementation and services in multiple vertical sectors.
Cautions
  • Complexity and pricing — Large portfolio creates pre- and post-sales challenges. Customers cited difficulty in finding trained resources and reported highest audit requests.1 IBM scored low for pricing model suitability, but well on value for money.
  • Sales execution — The company has a declining RDBMS market share. Survey responses noted the "very aggressive" competitor marketing with little by way of an effective IBM response.
  • Branding — PureData System for Transactions (DB2) and PureData System for Analytics (Netezza) are different, creating confusion.

InterSystems

Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S., InterSystems (www.intersystems.com) was founded in 1978. InterSystems markets Caché, which was originally an object-oriented DBMS and is now a hybrid NoSQL/SQL, high-performance transaction engine with a strong position in the healthcare vertical.

Strengths
  • Strong functionality — Caché supports a wide variety of data types with object, NoSQL and SQL models, and has strong replication for HA and DR. Database management is automated, requiring fewer resources.
  • Focused execution — InterSystems is very strong in the healthcare vertical and complements its sales force with a large ecosystem of independent software vendors. Execution in its target market is the reason why InterSystems is in the Challengers quadrant.
  • Ease of use and performance — InterSystems received high reference scores for ease of use, experience in doing business and the overall performance of Caché; confirming the outcome of Gartner's inquiries with customers, which show the same.
Cautions
  • Market perception — Although InterSystems has broken out of healthcare, it is generally perceived as being a healthcare-only provider. InterSystems must follow a vision to move to the broader operational DBMS market that it can support well.
  • Growth — InterSystems is a small DBMS vendor today, with the potential to become one of the Leaders. Investment in sales and marketing is necessary to break into the next level.
  • Pricing and bugs — InterSystems received relatively low scores for suitability of the pricing model and a number of references mentioned bugs in new features as being an issue.

MarkLogic

Located in San Carlos, California, U.S., MarkLogic (www.marklogic.com) offers a document store DBMS with ACID consistency in commercial Essential Enterprise, Global Enterprise and free, full-featured, Developer versions. Its offering can be deployed in VMware, AWS and as the DataRaptor appliance with partner SGI.

Strengths
  • Features — MarkLogic's offering includes replication, rollback, automated failover, point-in-time recovery, backup/restore, backup to Amazon S3, JSON, Hadoop Distributed File System use, parallelized ingest, role-based security, full text search, geospatial, converter for MongoDB, RDF and SPARQL.
  • Solid customer base — We estimate over 235 commercial customers, 5,000 licenses and strong financial backing.
  • Customer satisfaction — Survey ranked MarkLogic high for the experience of doing business with it.
Cautions
  • Competition — While strong in high-end, XML-based rich content use, MarkLogic is pursuing mainstream operational workloads already served by entrenched, and new and agile, competitors.
  • Perceived high prices — MarkLogic has recently lowered its pricing structure, but it will take time to change perception in the market.
  • Potential lack of focus — The company has initiatives in many simultaneous technical and business directions, so runs the risk of spreading its efforts too thin.

McObject

Located in Issaquah, Washington, U.S., McObject (www.mcobject.com) offers eXtremeDB, a small-footprint relational in-memory database (IMDB) with ACID persistence, extended array and vector support. Since 2001, millions of copies of eXtremeDB have been deployed worldwide in embedded and real-time applications.

Strengths
  • Deployment and configuration choices — eXtremeDB supports Windows, Linux, real-time OSs and Java Native Interface. Embedded and clustered configurations are available.
  • Functionality — eXtremeDB provides multiversion concurrency control, HA, 64-bit support and hybrid storage for scalability.
  • Partnerships — McObject has partnerships with IBM, HP, SGI, Wind River and Fusion-io; numerous distributors also market the product.
Cautions
  • Marketing — eXtremeDB's multiple engines, scalability and build-out are not yet well-known across potential operational DBMS markets.
  • Limited targeting — eXtremeDB has been primarily marketed for embedded applications. Recent broadening to real-time financial systems and others show promise.
  • Implementation issues — Customers surveyed gave McObject a very low score for ease of implementation. While unsurprising, given the low-level APIs used for real-time programming, this needs attention.

Microsoft

Located in Redmond, Washington, U.S., Microsoft (www.microsoft.com) markets the SQL Server DBMS as software-only for the operational DBMS market. Microsoft now has in-memory technology for transactions (code named Hekaton) in Community Technology Preview (beta test) with SQL Server 2014, ahead of both IBM DB2 and Oracle.

Strengths
  • Market vision and capabilities — SQL Server now has strong HA and DR capabilities with Database Mirroring using Windows Clustering and AlwaysOn for remote replication. Today, SQL Server has in-memory column-store capabilities and will add in-memory transaction processing with SQL Server 2014.
  • Competitive DBMS — Microsoft SQL Server is an enterprisewide, mission-critical DBMS capable of competing with the other large DBMS vendors. Microsoft is threatening to take second place in total DBMS revenue (see "Market Share: All Software Markets, Worldwide, 2012").
  • Performance and support — References were very positive, with the performance of SQL Server rated as one of the highest and a lack of problems with the DBMS overall.
Cautions
  • Lacking appliances — Microsoft lacks breath of delivery options, especially transaction appliances. It must form alliances with hardware vendors (as SAP has) to compete with IBM and Oracle.
  • Marketing leverage — Overall, Microsoft struggles with the issue of consumer versus corporate, and is still finding it difficult to market products such as SQL Server. Gartner inquiries show that market perception remains consumer heavy, preventing the wider use of SQL Server as an enterprise-class primary DBMS.
  • Pricing issues — References considered Microsoft difficult to do business with and the satisfaction with its pricing model for SQL Server was rated the lowest overall. This confirms the findings of our client inquiries on pricing since Microsoft changed this pricing model — beginning with SQL Server 2012.

MongoDB

Located in New York City, New York and Palo Alto, California, U.S., MongoDB — formerly 10gen — (www.mongodb.com) offers an open-source, document-style DBMS promoting flexible schemas and horizontal scalability. This is available through several cloud providers as well as on-premises.

Strengths
  • Rich partner ecosystem — MongoDB has aggressively expanded its partnerships to include entrenched enterprise vendors, cloud providers and platform-as-a-service vendors.
  • Deployment simplicity — References report that MongoDB has deployment cycles of eight months or less. The company recently announced its MongoDB Backup Service, a hosted backup service running in conjunction with the hosted MongoDB Monitoring Service.
  • Big data enablement — The company recently updated its Hadoop Connector to enable MapReduce tasks to execute against the MongoDB database, as well as move data from MongoDB into the Hadoop Distributed File System.
Cautions
  • Skills challenges — References indicate resistance to adopting MongoDB because it lacks the internal expertise to operate the database.
  • Lack of technical competitive barriers — MongoDB has failed to create meaningful technical barriers to prevent competitors from quickly following its developments and capturing market share.
  • Only 31% of references reported no problems with the product and many cited absent or weak functionality. The company also received low marks for the sustainability of its pricing model.

NuoDB

Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S., NuoDB (www.nuodb.com) provides an operational DBMS designed to scale horizontally and elastically. In addition to being available in on-premises and developer editions, the NuoDB product is available on AWS as well as Windows Azure.

Strengths
  • Value and quality of interaction — NuoDB received high scores from surveyed customers related to value for money. NuoDB also received the highest marks for overall interaction experience.
  • Ease of use — The NuoDB product offers several programmatic approaches and integration with popular object-relational mapping frameworks and a variety of file systems.
  • Product stability and quality — References did not report any unplanned production downtime, and no problems with its operational DBMS were reported. The product offers hot upgrades, data redundancy, HA and DR features.
Cautions
  • Unclear positioning — As one of several "NewSQL" startups and one of the newest firms on the Magic Quadrant, this company faces challenges in differentiating its offerings against those of its competitors.
  • Lack of community — NuoDB has not established a footprint in the developer community, which commonly provides informal support and initiates tool development.
  • Nascent partner ecosystem — NuoConnect, the company's partner program, has yet to attract the critical mass necessary to supplement NuoDB's sales and implementation efforts.

Oracle

Located in Redwood Shores, California, U.S., Oracle (www.oracle.com) markets a complete set of DBMS products for operational systems, including: Oracle Database, Oracle TimesTen, BerkeleyDB Oracle NoSQL Database and MySQL. In addition to software, the DBMS is available in Engineered Systems (appliances).

Strengths
  • Broad offering — Oracle has the broadest offerings in the market, covering different DBMSs for multiple purposes (NoSQL, RDBMS, streaming data, mobile and open-source) as well as delivery in the cloud, on appliances and as stand-alone software. Oracle is also first in total DBMS revenue market share (see "Market Share: All Software Markets, Worldwide, 2012").
  • Functionality — Oracle offers extensive functionality with many unique features and options such as Real Application Clusters (RAC) and the newest Oracle Multitenant option, moving multitenancy to the DBMS layer and reducing support and maintenance.
  • Solid availability — References cite performance and availability as primary drivers for implementation of Oracle. Many specifically called out Oracle RAC and Exadata in support of performance and availability.
Cautions
  • Public perception of vision — Oracle marketing tends to publicly ignore some market trends until they are ready to announce products. Although this does not imply poor vision, customers must make assumptions about road maps and therefore about Oracle's vision.
  • Proprietary features — An increasing concern of Gartner's is that Oracle is introducing features to the DBMS products that are only available on Oracle hardware and appliances; Oracle's stated direction is to move functionality "to the silicon."
  • Low cost/value and bugs — References consider these products to be expensive and therefore the lowest perceived value proposition. Also, Oracle had the fewest "no problem encountered" responses.

Orient Technologies

Located in London, England, Orient Technologies' (www.orientechnologies.com) operational DBMS, OrientDB, is predominantly a graph database but includes features of document-store databases. In addition to running the database on-premises, it is also embeddable and has a cloud offering through AWS.

Strengths
  • Hybrid offering simplifies deployment — Referenced customers are using both the document and graph capabilities of OrientDB, and few are using other NoSQL databases, which indicates a broad applicability for several use cases.
  • Value for money — References gave Orient Technologies top marks for pricing suitability and cited extremely good value for money.
  • Product maturity — Of its referenced customers, 44% cited no problems with the OrientDB.
Cautions
  • Lack of experience supporting large customers — Orient Technologies' customers tend to be smaller enterprises. The company may have difficulty proving it can deliver when competing for larger opportunities.
  • Limited global footprint — While it claims some North American customers, Orient Technologies is focused on the European market and hasn't effectively marketed to a broader base of customers.
  • Small partner ecosystem — The company only cites two partners, both headquartered in Europe. However, Orient Technologies has developed low-cost certifications targeting database administrators and developers.

SAP

Located in Walldorf, Germany, SAP (www.sap.com) has several DBMS products that are used for transaction systems: SAP Sybase Adaptive Server Enterprise (ASE), SAP Sybase iAnywhere and SAP Hana. Both ASE and iAnywhere are available as software only, while SAP Hana is marketed as an appliance.

Strengths
  • Vision leadership — Moving into DBMS technology, SAP has introduced SAP Hana as an in-memory platform for hybrid transaction/analytical processing (HTAP) and acquired Sybase to add to the DBMS product line.
  • Strong DBMS offerings — In addition to SAP Hana, SAP Sybase ASE continues to support global-scale applications and was first to introduce an in-memory DBMS (IMDBMS) version.
  • Performance — References cited performance (scalability and reliability) as a major strength (one of the highest scores), mostly for SAP Sybase ASE.
Cautions
  • Marketing communications — Despite SAP's ongoing marketing efforts regarding its DBMS portfolio, Gartner clients report confusion about "how SAP DBMS products integrate, where to use which product and what may be required in the future."
  • Lack of skills — Client inquiries are clear about the availability of skills in the market for the DBMS products. This includes SAP Sybase ASE and SAP Hana, although as Hana is new this is to be expected at first.
  • Poor support — References for SAP were clear that the overall experience of doing business with SAP for DBMS was difficult (lowest overall score). Additionally, support was rated the lowest of any vendor — primarily for SAP Sybase ASE — probably due to integration issues from the acquisition of Sybase.

VoltDB

Located in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., VoltDB (www.voltdb.com) markets an in-memory row-store DBMS for the operational DBMS market. VoltDB (founded in 2008) is an open-source DBMS that is available as software only.

Strengths
  • Technology and vision — The unique H-Store technology and IMDBMS allows VoltDB to reach extreme performance. Many customers are performing HTAP transactions and analytics in the same database, with high velocity data.
  • Open-source — VoltDB is the only open-source IMDBMS vendor, positioning it uniquely in the market for customers desiring an open-source product.
  • Performance and value — As expected of an IMDBMS, VoltDB received high reference scores on overall performance as well as on value for the price paid.
Cautions
  • Revenue model — the open-source model is a double-edged sword: reducing the revenue of VoltDB; preventing it from growing at the speed of its competitors; and also restricting new feature delivery.
  • Partnerships and reach — VoltDB is small, with few resources for its sales force. Although the ecosystem is growing, independent software vendors and partners remain low — further limiting its ability to reach new customers.
  • Ease of use — VoltDB references called out ease of use as an issue, specifically missing SQL language elements that required workarounds for the applications.

Vendors Added and Dropped

We review and adjust our inclusion criteria for Magic Quadrants and MarketScopes as markets change. As a result of these adjustments, the mix of vendors in any Magic Quadrant or MarketScope may change over time. A vendor appearing in a Magic Quadrant or MarketScope one year and not the next does not necessarily indicate that we have changed our opinion of that vendor. This may be a reflection of a change in the market and, therefore, changed evaluation criteria, or a change of focus by a vendor.

Added

This is a new Magic Quadrant.

Dropped

This is a new Magic Quadrant.

Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria

To be included in this Magic Quadrant, vendors and products must meet the following criteria:

  • Software Availability: Vendors must have DBMS software that has been generally available for licensing or supported download for at least a year, as of 1 June 2013. Products that have been commercially available for more than 10 years but have not experienced average market rate growth for several years are not included in this report.
  • Software Releases: We use the most recent generally available release of the software (as of 1 June 2013) to evaluate current technical capabilities. We do not consider beta, "early access," "ramp up" or other releases that are not generally available. For customer references and reference survey responses, all versions currently used in production are considered. When older versions are in use, we consider whether later releases may have addressed reported issues and also the rate at which customers move to newer versions.
  • Feature Availability: Product evaluations include technical capabilities, features and functionality present in the product or supported for download, through midnight, U.S. Eastern Daylight Time on 1 June 2013. Capabilities, product features or functionality released after this date can be included at Gartner's discretion and in a manner Gartner deems appropriate for ensuring the quality of our research on behalf of our non-vendor clients. We also consider how such later releases can reasonably impact the end-user experience.
  • Customers and Revenue: Vendors must generate a minimum of $20 million in verifiable annual software revenue or maintain a minimum of 100 verifiable and distinct customer organizations with operational DBMSs in production. In addition, a minimum of 10 reference customers responding to Gartner's approved reference survey questionnaire is also necessary.2 Revenue can be from licenses, support and/or maintenance. Gartner may include additional vendors based on undisclosed references in cases of known use for classified but unspecified use cases. For this year's Magic Quadrant, the approved questionnaire was produced in English only.
  • Support: The vendor must provide support for its operational DBMS product(s). We also consider products from vendors that control, or participate in, the engineering of open-source DBMSs and their support. We require that a DBMS meets Gartner's definition of a DBMS (see Note 2).
  • Services: Vendors participating in the operational DBMS market must demonstrate their ability to deliver the necessary services to support transaction systems via the establishment and delivery of support processes, professional services and/or committed resources and budget.
  • Geographical Availability: Vendors must demonstrate support of operational DBMS customers in at least two of the major geographic regions (North America, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and Asia/Pacific).
  • Excluded Products: Products specifically excluded from this Magic Quadrant (see the Market Definition/Description section) are:
    • Embedded DBMS products
    • Data-warehouse-only DBMS products
    • DBMS products only available as a cloud service
    • Prerelational DBMS products
    • Object DBMS products
    • Graph DBMS products
    • In-memory data grid products
    • Complex-event processing or streaming data engines

Evaluation Criteria

Ability to Execute

Ability to Execute is primarily concerned with the ability and maturity of the vendor. Criteria under this heading also consider the product's portability, its ability to scale and to run in different operating environments (giving the customer a range of options). Ability to Execute criteria are critical to customers' satisfaction and success with a product, so customer reference interviews and surveys are weighted heavily throughout.

  • Product/Service: Includes the technical attributes of the DBMS, as well as features and functionality built specifically to manage the DBMS when used as platform for transactions, interactions and observations. We include HA/DR, performance and scalability and support for new hardware and memory models. These attributes are evaluated across a variety of database sizes and application workloads. We also consider the automated management, tools and resources necessary to manage a database environment, especially as it scales to more complex application workloads. Finally, we consider the flexibility of the DBMS in responding to new data types, application types and new requirements for distributing data across both multiple servers and geographies.
  • Overall Viability: Includes corporate aspects such as the skills of the personnel, financial stability, R&D investment, and M&A activity. It also covers the management's ability to respond to market changes and the company's ability to survive market difficulties (crucial for long-term survival). Vendors are further evaluated on their capability to establish dominance in meeting a specific market demand.
  • Sales Execution/Pricing: Here we examine the price/performance and pricing models of the DBMS and the ability of the sales force to manage accounts (judging from feedback from interviews, surveys and interactions with our clients). We also consider the market share of the DBMS software products, and the diversity and innovative nature of packaging and pricing models — including the ability to promote, sell and support the product globally.
  • Market Responsiveness and Track Record: Includes the diversity of the vendor's offerings in response to changing market demand (for example, its ability and flexibility in offering the appliances, cloud deployment, new data types and new programming requirements demanded). We consider general market perceptions of the vendor and its products. We also consider both the vendor's ability to adapt to market changes, during the previous 18 months, and its flexibility in responding to market dynamics over a longer period.
  • Marketing Execution: Evaluates such activities as lead generation, including traditional methods and Internet-enabled trial software delivery, and channel development through partnering agreements (including co-seller, co-marketing and co-lead management arrangements). Also considered are the vendor's coordination and delivery of education and marketing events throughout the world and across vertical markets.
  • Customer Experience: This criterion is based primarily on the customer reference surveys and interviews for this report, as well as discussions with users of Gartner's inquiry service during the previous six quarters. Gartner considers the vendor's track record of proofs of concept, customers' perceptions of the product and customers' loyalty to the vendor (this reflects their tolerance of its practices and can indicate their level of satisfaction). Customer input regarding the application of products to limited use cases could also be significant, depending on the success or failure of the vendor's approach in the market.
  • Operations: Covers the alignment of the vendor's organization, as well as whether and how this enhances its ability to deliver. Aspects considered include field delivery of appliances, manufacturing (including the identification of diverse geographic cost advantages), internationalization of the product (in light of both technical and legal requirements) and adequate staffing.
Table 1. Ability to Execute Evaluation Criteria

Criteria

Weight

Product or Service

High

Overall Viability

Low

Sales Execution/Pricing

Medium

Market Responsiveness/Record

High

Marketing Execution

Medium

Customer Experience

High

Operations

Low

Source: Gartner (October 2013)

Completeness of Vision

Completeness of Vision encompasses a vendor's abilities to understand the functional requirements needed to support transactional environments, develop a product strategy that meets the market's requirements, comprehend overall market trends and influence or lead the market when necessary. A visionary leadership role is necessary for the long-term viability of both product and company. A vendor's vision is enhanced by its willingness to extend its influence throughout the market by working with independent third-party application software vendors that deliver both added functionality for the transaction environment and commercial off-the-shelf software. A successful vendor will be able to not only to understand the competitive landscape of operational transactions, but also shape the future of this field.

  • Market Understanding: Covers a vendor's ability to understand the market and shape its growth and vision. In addition to examining a vendor's core competencies in this market, we consider its awareness of new trends; such as, the increasing sophistication of end users, growing scalability needs (especially across server clusters), Linux as a platform for DBMS, use of new persistence models and a growing desire to use data structures other than SQL.
  • Marketing Strategy: Refers to a vendor's marketing themes, product research and development focus, and its ability to choose appropriate target markets and third-party software vendor partners to enhance the marketability of its products. For example, we consider whether the vendor encourages and supports ISVs in its efforts to support the DBMS in native mode (via, for instance, co-marketing or co-advertising with value-added partners). This criterion includes the vendor's responses to the market trends identified above and any offers of alternative solutions in its marketing materials and plans.
  • Sales Strategy: Assesses how a vendor designs and targets its channels and partnerships to assist with selling. It is especially important for younger organizations, because sales strategy can enable them to greatly increase their market presence while maintaining lower sales costs (for example, through downloadable free community editions, co-selling or joint advertising). This criterion also covers a vendor's strategy for communicating its vision to its field organization and, therefore, to clients and prospective customers. Also included are pricing innovations and strategies, such as new licensing arrangements and cloud-based models for elastic provisioning to support peak demand.
  • Offering (Product) Strategy: Covers the areas of product portability and packaging. Vendors should demonstrate a diverse strategy that enables customers to choose what they need to build a complete solution for a transactional environment. Also covered are partners' offerings that include technical, marketing, sales and support integration. We also consider the availability of appliances based on the vendor's DBMS.
  • Business Model: Covers how a vendor's model of a target market combines with its products and pricing, and whether the vendor can generate profits with this model, judging from its packaging and offerings. Additionally, we consider reviews of publicly announced earnings and forward-looking statements relating to an intended market focus. For private companies, and to augment information that is publicly available, we use proxies for earnings and new customer growth — such as the number of Gartner clients indicating interest in, or awareness of, a vendor's products during calls to our inquiry service.
  • Vertical/Industry Strategy: This strategy affects a vendor's ability to understand its clients. Aspects such as vertical-market sales teams and partnerships with vertical-market service providers are considered for this criterion.
  • Innovation: This is a major criterion when evaluating the vision of operational DBMS vendors in developing new functionality, allocating R&D spending and leading the market in new directions. This criterion also covers a vendor's ability to innovate and develop new functionality and support new data types in its DBMS. The use of new storage and hardware models is key to this. Users expect a DBMS to become self-tuning, reducing the resources required to optimize the environment, especially as the environment is scaled for larger workloads.
  • Geographic Strategy: This criterion addresses a vendor's strategy for worldwide reach, by considering its ability to use its own resources in different regions as well as those of its subsidiaries and partners. This criterion considers a vendor's ability to support clients throughout the world, around the clock and in many languages. Anticipation of regional and global economic conditions is also considered.
Table 2. Completeness of Vision Evaluation Criteria

Evaluation Criteria

Weighting

Market Understanding

High

Marketing Strategy

Medium

Sales Strategy

Medium

Offering (Product) Strategy

High

Business Model

Low

Vertical/Industry Strategy

Low

Innovation

High

Geographic Strategy

Medium

Source: Gartner (October 2013)

Quadrant Descriptions

Leaders

The Leaders quadrant generally contains the vendors that demonstrate the greatest degree of support for a broad range of operational applications based on a broad range of data types and large numbers of concurrent users. These vendors demonstrate consistent customer satisfaction and strong customer support. These vendors also have the greatest longevity in the market and have built a wide partner ecosystem for their products. Hence, the Leaders generally have the lowest risk for their customers in the areas of performance, scalability, reliability and support. As the market demands change, so the Leaders demonstrate strong vision in support of not only the needs of the current market but also of new and emerging trends. Finally, the messaging, product R&D and delivery are in line with the market today and with new trends in both DBMS software technology and hardware technology.

Challengers

The Challengers quadrant includes stable vendors with strong, established offerings but a relative lack of vision. It is normal for some vendors to have high scores for execution but lag in the adoption and market leadership needed for leadership in vision. Challengers will normally show strong corporate viability and financial stability as well as demonstrating strong customer support. Challengers will lack the vision to support some of the new trends in the operational DBMS market, such as support of interaction and observation data in transactions or a road map moving toward IMDBMS capabilities. Although they may be lacking in some of the innovative market concepts, Challengers offer stability, and simplicity of installation and support, coupled with strong performance. As with the Niche Players, Gartner considers support of limited data types and hardware models as evidence of limited vision.

Visionaries

Visionaries take a forward-thinking approach to managing the hardware, software and end-user aspects of an operational DBMS environment. Visionaries will typically have innovative ideas for new functionality and advanced use of new hardware. These vendors will have the requisite number of production customers without the market momentum of the Leaders. Typical of the DBMS market, Gartner finds many new and innovative small vendors with great new ideas that are "pushing" forward the more mature vendors and the market in general.

Niche Players

Niche Players generally deliver a highly specialized product with limited market appeal. Frequently, a Niche Player provides an exceptional operational DBMS product, but is isolated or limited to a specific end-user community, region or industry. Although the solution itself may not have limitations, adoption is limited.

This quadrant contains vendors in several categories:

  • Those with an operational DBMS product that lacks a strong or a large customer base
  • Those with an operational DBMS that lacks the breadth of functionality of the Leaders
  • Those with new operational DBMS products that lack general customer acceptance or the proven functionality to move beyond niche status

Niche Players typically offer smaller, specialized solutions that are used for specific operational and transactional applications, depending on the client's needs. Many lack a clear road map for future direction in the market.

Context

Previously, the OLTP DBMS was very mature with few new entrants to challenge the status quo. Over the past five years or so, this market has changed rapidly, hence Gartner's redefinition of the market to the operational DBMS market (see "The OLTP DBMS Market Becomes the Operational DBMS Market"). With the introduction of NoSQL in support of unstructured data in transactions and the viable use of in-memory computing, many organizations are beginning to use these new DBMS engines for specific use cases (such as global scalability of Web applications).

As there are many new entrants and smaller, less mature vendors, the market appears to be bifurcated (split in two). There are the traditional strong, mature leaders in one grouping and the innovative new vendors in another cluster. Many of the new vendors show they have a vision of supporting the new transaction types required in the operational DBMS market. The overall rationale for most vendors being below the midline in the Magic Quadrant is the support of only one or two of the new models, such as interaction and observation data, SQL and NoSQL and multiple data types including structured, unstructured, XML and key-value-type data. The more mature vendors support a wide range of models in a scalable, highly available environment, thus causing the large "white space" between them and the newer vendors. We believe the size of this white space will diminish over time as the market matures and the new, smaller vendors address multiple operational models.

Another major vision for the vendors is the support of in-memory computing. Most are beginning to add this functionality to the DBMS, some with an in-memory-only model. In-memory computing, with its inherent speed, is becoming necessary for the processing of interaction and observation data integrated into transactions. During the next three years, as prices drop even further, we believe all vendors will offer some form of in-memory model — with this eventually becoming the preferred model for DBMSs. The one form of memory not well adapted to data is flash used as addressable memory and not as a form of fast disk replacement. NAND flash is, of course, slower than DRAM memory, but when used as addressable memory it is more efficient than use as disk block storage.

As the new vendors mature and adopt a wider variety of functionality, the bifurcated market will begin to disappear and the operational DBMS market will become more homogeneous and commoditized (see "IT Market Clock for Database Management Systems, 2013").

This Magic Quadrant deals with the key capabilities of information management for transaction processing. It should therefore interest anyone involved in defining, purchasing, building or managing a transaction processing environment; notably, CIOs, CTOs, infrastructure management, database and application architects, database administrators and IT purchasing managers.

For this Magic Quadrant, Gartner based most of its analysis on information collected between March 2013 and August 2013. Our reference survey was performed during July and August of 2013.2 We also considered information from a longer historic period, as well as any late-breaking news relating to vendors' products, customers and finances.

Market Overview

The operational DBMS, formerly the OLTP DBMS market, became very mature during the early part of the 21st century. As Internet usage and availability grew, so did the applications necessary to support this growing infrastructure. Over the past five years, a large number of new vendors has entered the transaction market with products in support of the specialized applications needed to support this new, global business world.

Many drivers of innovation are widely accepted. New forms of data — that were previously difficult or impossible to capture — have become available from connected devices, such as smart meter and machine or device data; we call this "observation data." The pervasive use of personal devices and social media has also become a source of social- and business-related data — we call this "interaction data." These new forms of data must now be used not only for analytics, but also within transactions. Our reference data supports this change, as 75% of respondents are using interaction data in transactions and over 50% of respondents are using observation data in transaction processing.2

The hardware landscape has exploded with new devices, new servers, new networking and memory and storage options, to name a few. These technologies both enable and require new ways to process the data they create or support. Organizations want and need to capture both structured and unstructured data for use in transactions. Further, they must also use the data from these transactions, observations and interactions in real time for decision processing as part of (not separate from) the transaction. This process is the definition of HTAP; refer to "Hype Cycle for In-Memory Computing Technology, 2013" for further details.

To support the new operational DBMS market, many new and innovative vendors have emerged with new DBMS engines supporting transactions on a global scale, real-time transactions integrated with analytics, streaming data transactions and more. As in the past, these new vendors began with a single mind in terms of direction. Once proven, their ideas will push the more mature vendors to adopt some of this technology.

Examples of this trend are: JSON for data structures in the applications; new and less restrictive forms of consistency (allowing for eventual consistency); use of larger DRAM memory for IMDBMS; and new file structures that are different from relational ones, such as key-value and document-store file systems. Many of the new vendors support these NoSQL systems for simplicity, agile development, support of unstructured data types, scalability and performance. An increasing number of the mature DBMS vendors are adopting these technologies in their systems.

Cloud as a delivery platform is also becoming widely adopted in the operational DBMS market. Although we have opted to exclude cloud-only delivery, it is growing as a platform. Over the next few years, we believe that most vendors will offer cloud versions of their DBMS products. This will range from simple support of infrastructure as a service and cloud hosting, to full cloud DBMS platforms with elasticity and multitenant capabilities. This deployment — and especially hybrid deployment — will become a future criterion of importance as the operational DBMS matures, offering an additional platform choice to users.

Acronym Key and Glossary Terms

ACID atomicity, consistency, isolation and durability
ASE Adaptive Server Enterprise
AWS Amazon Web Services
DBMS database management system
DR disaster recovery
OSDBMS open-source database management system
HA high availability
IMDB in-memory database
JSON JavaScript Object Notation
M&A merger and acquisition
RDBMS relational database management system
RDF Resource Description Framework
TCO total cost of ownership

Evidence

1 Conference Survey Data

Gartner's IT financial, procurement and asset management summits were held in Orlando and London during 2012. This survey is run annually at these conferences. One question in the survey refers to the ease of working with the vendor with respect to contracts and negotiations.

2 Reference Survey

In addition to hundreds of Gartner inquiries, as part of the Magic Quadrant process we sought the views of vendors' reference customers via an online survey. The survey included requests for feedback on vendor maturity (for example, understanding industries, provision of innovation, responsiveness to new requests, TCO and pricing) and product capabilities (for example, flexibility in data modeling, support for data quality, UI support for data stewardship, internal workflow and support for multiple architectural styles). More than 400 organizations, representing all the featured vendors' reference bases, responded to the survey (during July and August 2013). The reference customers were generally pleased with their vendors and products but gave relatively low marks in some areas, which we have detailed in the analysis of each vendor. Some of the issues may be historical, because not all organizations are on the latest product versions. In our analysis we have noted how vendors scored compared with the others in the Magic Quadrant.

Note 1
Definition of Interaction Data and Observation Data

These two new classifications of data are produced from social and mobile data interactions and observations.

  • Interaction data is the fabric of information in the social sphere, generated from one or more people interacting with devices and one another. Interactions are associated with social phenomena: new sources, such as tweets, Facebook posts and weblogs, that record customer activity and behavior; as well as the more traditional, but formerly little-used, data such as email archives, content repositories and voice and video recordings.
  • Observation data is generated by connected devices, which enable and document much of the impact of mobile technology and other new use cases. For example, the capturing of geolocation data in Internet Protocol data records; and extending the call data records (CDRs) that were so important to early mobile telephone providers' efforts at customer behavior modeling — thereby enabling a new class of applications that restores, and provides context to, simple transactions.

Note 2
Definition of a DBMS

We define a DBMS as a complete software system used to define, create, manage, update and query a database; here, we refer to an organized collection of data that may be structured in multiple formats and be stored in some form of storage medium (which can include hard-disk drives, flash memory, solid-state drives or even DRAM). Additionally, DBMSs should provide interfaces to, and govern the performance of, independent programs and tools that enable a variety of concurrent workload types.

Evaluation Criteria Definitions

Ability to Execute

Product/Service: Core goods and services offered by the vendor for the defined market. This includes current product/service capabilities, quality, feature sets, skills and so on, whether offered natively or through OEM agreements/partnerships as defined in the market definition and detailed in the subcriteria.

Overall Viability: Viability includes an assessment of the overall organization's financial health, the financial and practical success of the business unit, and the likelihood that the individual business unit will continue investing in the product, will continue offering the product and will advance the state of the art within the organization's portfolio of products.

Sales Execution/Pricing: The vendor's capabilities in all presales activities and the structure that supports them. This includes deal management, pricing and negotiation, presales support, and the overall effectiveness of the sales channel.

Market Responsiveness/Record: Ability to respond, change direction, be flexible and achieve competitive success as opportunities develop, competitors act, customer needs evolve and market dynamics change. This criterion also considers the vendor's history of responsiveness.

Marketing Execution: The clarity, quality, creativity and efficacy of programs designed to deliver the organization's message to influence the market, promote the brand and business, increase awareness of the products, and establish a positive identification with the product/brand and organization in the minds of buyers. This "mind share" can be driven by a combination of publicity, promotional initiatives, thought leadership, word of mouth and sales activities.

Customer Experience: Relationships, products and services/programs that enable clients to be successful with the products evaluated. Specifically, this includes the ways customers receive technical support or account support. This can also include ancillary tools, customer support programs (and the quality thereof), availability of user groups, service-level agreements and so on.

Operations: The ability of the organization to meet its goals and commitments. Factors include the quality of the organizational structure, including skills, experiences, programs, systems and other vehicles that enable the organization to operate effectively and efficiently on an ongoing basis.

Completeness of Vision

Market Understanding: Ability of the vendor to understand buyers' wants and needs and to translate those into products and services. Vendors that show the highest degree of vision listen to and understand buyers' wants and needs, and can shape or enhance those with their added vision.

Marketing Strategy: A clear, differentiated set of messages consistently communicated throughout the organization and externalized through the website, advertising, customer programs and positioning statements.

Sales Strategy: The strategy for selling products that uses the appropriate network of direct and indirect sales, marketing, service, and communication affiliates that extend the scope and depth of market reach, skills, expertise, technologies, services and the customer base.

Offering (Product) Strategy: The vendor's approach to product development and delivery that emphasizes differentiation, functionality, methodology and feature sets as they map to current and future requirements.

Business Model: The soundness and logic of the vendor's underlying business proposition.

Vertical/Industry Strategy: The vendor's strategy to direct resources, skills and offerings to meet the specific needs of individual market segments, including vertical markets.

Innovation: Direct, related, complementary and synergistic layouts of resources, expertise or capital for investment, consolidation, defensive or pre-emptive purposes.

Geographic Strategy: The vendor's strategy to direct resources, skills and offerings to meet the specific needs of geographies outside the "home" or native geography, either directly or through partners, channels and subsidiaries as appropriate for that geography and market.