The underlying story behind the increased traction MySQL and EnterpriseDB are seeing is that SQL databases are getting commoditized at an increasing pace. Oracle, IBM and MS may not like this but that’s where the world is headed. It’s about time–SQL has been around for 30+ years. On top of this, application frameworks have advanced to the point where some of the heavy lifting that went into databases for added functionality and scalability has moved up into the application runtime tier. Comparatively speaking, much less code is database-specific nowadays than ten years ago.
To sell databases today, you either have to show significantly reduced TCO, which is the open-source startup way, or add significant functionality. The big guys are taking the predictable fatware path–adding more features such as advanced XML processing and high-end BI for ever-smaller user audiences. That’s not a bad way to go when most of the revenue growth comes from up-selling into existing accounts.
Startups have an additional opportunity to identify large market niches and build special-purpose systems that provide 10+x advantages compared to traditional approaches. Here are some examples:
- Doing well
- Netezza, which goes after high-end data warehouses with complex BI queries.
- Execution problems & small exits
- The object-oriented DB (OODBMS) players such as Poet/X-Solutions and eXcelon, which sold to Progress/Sonic Software for $24M.
- Big plays, too early to tell