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Gartner Magic Quadrant: Operational DBMS 'mega-vendors' prepare for war

The Gartner Magic Quadrant for Operational DBMS highlights notable vendors and predicts growth in the market that will lead to fierce competition.

The brand new Magic Quadrant for Operational Database Management Systems (DBMS) represents a major change for Gartner,...

the well-known Stamford, Conn.-based IT analyst firm that issues the report. Vendors listed in the newly released Magic Quadrant report were formerly considered by Gartner to be a part of the OLTP DBMS Market.

Don't rule out the smaller, innovative vendors just because they're not in the Leaders quadrant.

Donald Feinberg,
vice president, Gartner Inc.

"The word online transaction processing, OLTP, is kind of an old, outdated term because all transactions are online," said Donald Feinberg, a Gartner vice president, distinguished analyst and co-author of the report, when asked to elaborate on the reasoning behind the market redefinition.

Another reason Gartner decided to redefine the market is because more organizations are using new types of data management technologies, such as columnar databases, to handle transactions.

"The reason we buttoned it out is because if you look at some of the nontraditional database management systems like Cassandra, Mongo, Couch and many others, they're doing transactions with those databases even though they're not traditional transactions necessarily," Feinberg said. "And we didn't want to leave those out because they're valid uses of new, innovative products being used for transactions."

The Gartner Magic Quadrant report identifies the top players in the operational DBMS market and ranks them as Leaders, Challengers, Visionaries or Niche Players. Their rankings are based on criteria that evaluate each vendor's "completeness of vision" and "ability to execute."

This year's Magic Quadrant shows a large gap between the more established vendors and the newer players. Oracle, Microsoft, IBM and SAP were identified as Leaders. InterSystems and EnterpriseDB are both named Challengers, with Aerospike the lone Visionary. The Niche Players quadrant contains the remaining twelve vendors, including MarkLogic, Altibase, McObject, VoltDB and MongoDB.

Stiff competition ahead for the operational DBMS market

The key takeaway from this report, according to Feinberg, is visual. Even after only a quick glance at the Magic Quadrant, it is easy to notice that it presents a bifurcated market. In the Leaders quadrant are the "mega-vendors," but lower down is a listing of newer, innovative companies.

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"What I see happening over the next few years is the white space between those two is going to be reduced," Feinberg said. "Some of the new innovative companies will begin to move up toward the leaders."

As newer vendors -- such as MongoDB and VoltDB -- enter the market, they bring interesting ideas and product features into the equation. Feinberg predicts that beginning in the first quarter of next year, the market will enter into "the war of the database mega-vendors."

New offerings from companies such as Google and Amazon that compete with products from larger vendors are also causing upheaval in the IT marketplace.

"You're starting to see competition coming into every market of IT from what we would call nontraditional vendors," Feinberg said. "This is a major paradigm shift that we're seeing."

When evaluating the companies listed in the Magic Quadrant report, Feinberg suggests keeping an open mind because many of the smaller vendors on the list provide some powerful capabilities.

"Don't rule out the smaller, innovative vendors just because they're not in the Leaders quadrant," he said.

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