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Open source DBMS's are gaining in popularity at the expense of commercial systems

by Paul Andlinger, 5 May 2014
Tags: Commercial DBMS, DB-Engines Ranking, Open source DBMS

If we split up the popularity scores of the DB-Engines Ranking into open source vs. commercial database systems, the commercial systems are still leading by 59:41. However, that ratio is down from 64:36 at the beginning of last year.

Based on the metrics we are using for our ranking of database management systems, we analysed the popularity of the open source tools compared to the popularity of the commercial systems. We classify a system as open source, when the source code is freely available and may be used and modified (according to respective licenses). As a matter of fact, many open source tools are backed by strong companies (e.g. MySQL: Oracle, MongoDB: MongoDB Inc, Cassandra: DataStax), providing additional services and/or enhance the open source package with specific add-ons (typically monitoring tools, integration with other technologies). On the other hand, many commercial systems offer free versions of their software, which typically lack some features or have limited usage scenarios.

Status Quo as of May 2014:


The above pie charts show that only a bit more than half of the systems are commercial tools, but they lead the popularity percentage with 59%. The simple reason is that there exist many open source systems with rather limited popularity, whereas we face giants like Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, DB2, Microsoft Access, Sybase ASE in the commercial camp.

Trend to open source DBMS:

The chart below shows a very clear trend towards open source systems (5 percentage points within 16 months).

This tendency is mainly caused by two factors:

  1. Strong growth rate of individual open source systems like PostgreSQL, MongoDB, Cassandra, Solr, Redis, HBase, ElasticSearch and Neo4J. See the historical trend chart for individual systems.
  2. A deeper look into the database categories (based on the data model) shows very clearly that the prevalence of open source tools varies heavily between the categories: they dominate Wide column stores, Document stores and Graph DBMS with over 95%, have 33% for Relational DBMS but only 2% for Object oriented DBMS.

    These numbers indicate that the increasing popularity of open source DBMS is not least owed to the growing relevance of NoSQL systems.

It will be interesting to watch whether this trend continues in the next periods.

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