Oracle, IBM lead in databases

Oracle and IBM are the clear winners among the business intelligence users and Internet companies that fuelled growth in the database market last year.

Industry researcher Dataquest recently reported that worldwide database sales, driven by strong growth in Internet-based computing and business intelligence applications, totalled $US8 billion ($13.7 billion) last year, up from $7.1 billion in 1998.

Oracle and IBM shared 61 per cent of the total database software market, with 31.1 per cent for Oracle and 29.9 per cent for IBM, according to the report. Microsoft held a 13.1 per cent share.

Both large, mainstream companies and small dotcoms cite investments made last year in Internet-based data management systems and in business intelligence applications based on data warehousing that let users analyse high-volume, fast-changing data generated by e-commerce.

Pat Komar, vice president of corporate information technology at Prudential Insurance Company of America, said his company began its data warehousing efforts in 1996 with a retail customer information warehouse that included more than a terabyte of data. That warehouse has since more than doubled in volume, and the company now has an additional 35 multiple-terabyte warehousing projects either planned or already under way. Each project has a six-month development time frame and at least $1 million in IT resources earmarked for it.

Komar said Prudential is running IBM's DB2 and vertical applications from Oracle. Its primary warehousing tool is Platinum from Computer Associates. "We're partnering with ... vendors we know are going to be around for a few years," Komar said.

Oracle's reputation among the dotcoms helped it last year. Chris Duffy, chief technology officer at, a Web marketplace for packaging and identification products, said his company evaluated the Microsoft SQL Server 7.0 and Oracle8i databases and went with Oracle because of his staff's experience with it. SQL Server's lower implementation cost wasn't as important as his staff's ability to build a reliable, scalable Internet server, he said.

The report's author, Dataquest analyst Norma Schroder, said Oracle's new licences for databases grew 19 per cent; IBM also reported strong sales overall, in part because of strong mainframe database sales. Sales for SQL Server 7.0 were strong as a result of pent-up demand for the release of the product, which was delayed from the previous year.

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