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MySQL is the DBMS of the Year 2019

von Matthias Gelbmann, Paul Andlinger, 3. Januar 2020
Tags: DBMS of the year, Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, Oracle

MySQL is the database management system that gained more popularity in our DB-Engines Ranking within the last year than any of the other 350 monitored systems.
We thus declare MySQL as the DBMS of the Year 2019.

For determining the DBMS of the year, we subtracted the popularity scores of January 2019 from the latest scores of January 2020. We use the difference of these numbers, rather than a percentage, because that would favor systems with a tiny popularity at the beginning of the year. The result is a list of DBMSs sorted by how much they managed to increase their popularity in 2019, or in other words, how many additional people started to communicate about it in one of the ways we measure in our methodology, for example job offers, professional profile entries and citations on the web.

DBMS of the Year: MySQL

When Michael "Monty" Widenius and others started to develop MySQL for personal usage more than 25 years ago, the eventful history of one of the most successful open source projects began. As one of the original corner stones of the LAMP stack for web development, MySQL quickly became the go-to DBMS solution for many developers.

Things started to look a bit problematic when Sun acquired MySQL in 2008, as people were concerned about the future of this open source project under the control of a big commercial corporation. When Oracle acquired Sun two years later, many thought that would be the end of MySQL. Why would Oracle continue to support the development of MySQL and thus risk to cannibalize the market share of its commercial DBMS? Monty Widenius created MariaDB, as the future of MySQL looked too uncertain.

However, Oracle did a better job than many had expected, creating the MySQL enterprise edition while still providing a very competitive open source community edition. MySQL 8.0, released in 2018, brought among others significant speed improvements and improved support for NoSQL document stores and JSON. The result is that MySQL keeps gaining popularity, despite the success of its direct competitors MariaDB and PostgreSQL

Runner-up: Oracle

Oracle had its ups and downs in our popularity ranking in the last 8 years. It lost a bit of its popularity score in that time frame, but it also was our DBMS of the year 2015 and had again a very good year in 2019. It remains our top ranked DBMS despite fierce competition. Oracles leading position is confirmed by several Gartner reports, that show Oracle as the #1 DBMS in several categories, and the success of its in-house competitor MySQL did not change that.

Third place: Microsoft SQL Server

Similar to Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server is a former DBMS of the year winner in 2016 with a very strong gain in popularity in 2019. While SQL Server was ranked second in our ranking for a few months in 2013 and has lost this position in the meantime to MySQL, it remained an undisputed top 3 system throughout the years. Microsoft also offers a number of very successful cloud-based DBMSs on its Azure platform, but SQL Server remains its flagship product for the time being.


The top 3 DBMSs in our popularity ranking are also the ones with the biggest popularity gains, and all of them are well established RDBMSs. What does that say about the DBMS market?

Does this signal the end of NoSQL?

We don't think so for two reasons. First, there are very successful NoSQL systems in the top 10 of our ranking, which are still gaining popularity year after year: MongoDB, Elasticsearch and Redis, and there are more NoSQL systems outside the top 10 that continue to do very well.

Second, the most successful RDBMSs have changed a lot over the years by incorporating more and more NoSQL features. All of the top 3 systems support the Document Store data model as secondary models, Oracle and SQL Server also support the Graph DBMS model. That means they have extended their scope well beyond the traditional RDBMS features. If, for example, you need some flexibility in your data scheme, you are no longer required to switch to a dedicated NoSQL DBMS, you can have the best of both worlds by just using some extended features of your RDBMS. If you want, NoSQL is not disappearing, it has gone mainstream.

On the other hand, however, systems such as MongoDB, Elasticsearch and Redis still provide plenty of specialized features and properties that ensure they are not going to be obsolete any time soon.


We congratulate MySQL, Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server on their success in 2019.


Previous winners of the DB-Engines DBMS of the Year Award:

MySQL 2019
PostgreSQL 2018
PostgreSQL 2017
Microsoft SQL Server 2016
Oracle 2015
MongoDB 2014
MongoDB 2013



Selected statements on the results:

Andy Mendelsohn, EVP Oracle: "We are happy to see recognition of the growing popularity of Oracle Database and MySQL in the DB Engines survey with Oracle Database remaining the top ranked DBMS overall and MySQL winning the DBMS of the Year 2019 award.
We encourage developers to use our Free Autonomous Database on Oracle Cloud to try out the latest Oracle Database converged database innovations such as Blockchain tables, even higher performance SQL on JSON data, enhanced ML and graph algorithms (now free with all Database Editions), and even higher performance IoT support."

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