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Microsoft SQL Server is the DBMS of the Year

by Matthias Gelbmann, Paul Andlinger, 4 January 2017
Tags: DBMS of the year, Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, PostgreSQL

Microsoft SQL Server is the database management system that gained more popularity in our DB-Engines Ranking within the last year than any of the other 315 monitored systems.
We thus declare Microsoft SQL Server as the DBMS of the Year 2016.

For determining the DBMS of the year, we subtracted the popularity scores of January 2016 from the latest scores of January 2017. 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 2016, 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: Microsoft SQL Server

Microsoft SQL Server had its ups and downs throughout the years in our ranking, but 2016 was exceptionally good, regaining ground towards Oracle, the leading system in the ranking. The release of SQL Server 2016 and the announcement to port SQL Server to Linux has certainly helped to stimulate interest in that product.

SQL Server is particularly strong in the ranking categories job offers and LinkedIn profiles, but it scores very well also in all the other ranking components such as Search Engine hits, Google Trends and StackOverflow discussions.

Runner-up: MySQL

MySQL raised its score in 2016 enough to come pretty close to Oracle in the ranking. Oracle, who owns MySQL since 2010, is pretty much responsible for that success, as they managed to largely dispel fears that development of MySQL might stall after that acquisition. Recent releases proof that MySQL remains a very competitive systems and our ranking shows that the community seems to appreciate that.

Third place: PostgreSQL

The year 2016 showed a fight between PostgreSQL and MongoDB for the 4th rank in the overall ranking (behind Oracle, MySQL and SQL Server), switching places almost monthly. While MongoDB finally managed to run in at rank 4, PostgreSQL is ahead in the 2016 growth list, securing the third place in the DBMS of the Year competition.
In 2016 PostgreSQL released two new versions (9.5 and 9.6) which introduced a new UPSERT capability, row level security, new BigData features and improvements to both scale up and scale out high performance workloads.


We congratulate Microsoft, MySQL and PostgreSQL for their success in 2016. It is the first time we see three RDBMS winning that competition, in the past we had at least two NoSQL systems among the winners. That does not mean, however, that NoSQL systems had a bad year. All of the leading NoSQL systems such as MongoDB, Cassandra, Redis, Elasticsearch, Neo4j and Couchbase improved their ranking scores in 2016, just not enough to make it into the top three.

We are looking forward to monitoring the DBMS trends in 2017.



We reached out to the system providers for a statement on the results. This is their reaction:

Rohan Kumar, General Manager, Microsoft Database Systems Group: "It’s been another incredible year for data and the innovations across the database industry. We are honored that SQL Server is recognized as the DBMS of the year. Microsoft is passionate about helping creators —no matter what language, technology, platform, or type of data. In 2016, we were excited to deliver great innovations to our customers with SQL Server 2016.  We also announced and launched the public preview of SQL Server on Linux, Docker Engine, and macOS on Docker for Mac. To bring the latest innovation in SQL Server to more of the developer community, we also released an updated portfolio of connectivity drivers across languages and runtimes as well as a SQL Server extension for the cross-platform development tool Visual Studio Code. We look forward to working with developers even more in 2017. By listening and learning, we aim to make it extremely easy to use the latest database technology, including machine learning, to build amazing and hopefully even life-changing applications."

Simon Riggs, Major PostgreSQL Committer: "It's great to see the continued success of PostgreSQL being reflected in DB-  Engines rankings. It's clear that the strength of the following for the World's  Most Advanced Open Source Database is enough to draw people away from  commercial databases."

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