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Emerging and fading trends in database management systems

by Paul Andlinger, 4 October 2016
Tags: DBaaS, Graph DBMS, Open source DBMS, Relational DBMS, Time Series DMBS

Articles on database technologies are jammed with buzzwords and prophecies of new trends, just like any other technology. We use the collected data of our DB-Engines Ranking to have a look at some of these trends.

For our DB-Engines Ranking we assign a popularity score to each DBMS according to our ranking method. We can then generate popularity trend lines by simply adding the scores of systems which have certain properties. We show these trends as percentage of the overall popularity of all systems.


In the last years, many new DBMSs were built. They often support data models far away from the previously set relational model. That was mainly driven by the requirements from new applications (like internet of things, management of unstructured data, modelling of complex relations etc.). Many of these systems turned out to be extremely successful, causing some prophets to predict the soon death of RDBMSs. Were they right? Let’s look at the chart derived from DB-Engines data of the last years.


The popularity of RDBMSs dropped from 94% in January 2013 to 81% in the current ranking of October 2016. If for the sake of simplicity, we denote all non-relational systems as NoSQL, that group grew from 6% to 19%, thus tripling its popularity in that period. However, the numbers of the last year clearly indicate that this trend seems to have stopped, and RDBMSs have stabilized on a high level.

Analysing only the changes in popularity (and neglecting the absolute values) shows that Graph DBMS have nearly multiplied their popularity by 6 times since January 2013. They are followed by Wide column stores and Document stores.

Change of popularity of DBMS since 2013

The same analysis for the last 12 months reveals that Time Series DBMS today is the fastest growing type of databases:

Trend of database categories over the last year

Charts with all categories of DBMS can be found at https://db-engines.com/en/ranking_categories.


Databases in the cloud

With our rigid definition of DBaaS offerings (please see our description), we measure the trend as shown in the following chart:

DBaaS Trend

The cloud-only systems increased their popularity from 0.1% in January 2013 to 1.4% nowadays and that trend still seems to continue.


Open source database management systems

Open sourced DBMS enjoy great popularity: 45% in the recent ranking, compared to 36% four years ago. But the times with significant increases each month are gone.

Trend Open Source DBMS

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