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The Future of Database Management Systems Is Cloud

by Donald Feinberg  |  June 23, 2019  |  2 Comments

On Friday, 20-June-2019, Gartner published new research titled “The Future of the DBMS Market Is Cloud” by Donald Feinberg, Merv Adrian and Adam Ronthal. The thesis: cloud is now the default platform for managing data. On-premises is the past, and only legacy compatibility or special requirements should keep you there.  Some might think we are early; others might think we are late, and some may even think us crazy! Well, in a word, NOT. Here is the evidence:

  1. Gartner numbers¹ show DBMS cloud services are already $10.4 billion of the $46.1 billion DBMS market in 2018. This does not include hosting DBMS licenses in the cloud (See Figure 1).
  2. Gartner numbers² also show that the overall DBMS Market grew at 18.4% from 2017 to 2018 – its best growth in over a decade.  Cloud DBMS accounted for 68% of that growth.
  3. Only two vendors (Amazon Web Services and Microsoft) account for 75% of the growth from 2017 to 2018. AWS is 100% cloud and Microsoft DBMS growth (we believe) was almost 100% cloud. Cloud growth is dramatically changing vendor rankings (See Figure 1).
  4. New DBMS innovation is cloud-first or cloud-only for development and often for delivery as well.
  5. A majority of the inquiries to Gartner Data Management analysts about DBMS choices are about cloud platforms and migration to these platforms.

Figure 1 – Gartner Total DBMS Market Share¹ Ranks 2011-2018 (by Revenue)

Source: Gartner (June 2019)
Note: The following historical vendor revenues were combined to reflect the state of the market in 2019: Cloudera to reflect the acquisition of Hortonworks;Micro Focus to reflect the acquisition of Vertica; Broadcom to reflect the acquisition of CA

What does this mean to the IT community?

  • First, it confirms that more and more end-user organizations are deploying systems and applications to the cloud, including replacing on-premises systems with SaaS. IT may or may not be driving these shifts.
  • Second, organizations who want to take advantage of new innovation in DBMS are moving to the cloud. It is happening only there, or at the least, in the cloud first. However, there is an increasing amount of innovation that will never get to on-premises, even when the vendor has on-premises products.
  • Third, new pricing models, avoidance of capital expense in favor of operating expense, and leveraging a pay-as-you-go approach, seem to be driving the move to the cloud.

The message in our research is simple – on-premises is the new legacy.  Cloud is the future. All organizations, big and small, will be using the cloud in increasing amounts. While it is still possible and probable that larger organizations will maintain on-premises systems, increasingly these will be hybrid in nature, supporting both cloud and on-premises. In the coming months, you will see more research from Gartner on this, as we move to a Cloud DBMS Market. Gartner clients can access this research at The Future of the DBMS Market Is Cloud (G00347472) 21-Jun-2019.

¹ “Market Share: Enterprise Platform as a Service, Worldwide, 2018”

² “Market Share: All Software Markets, Worldwide, 2018”


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Donald Feinberg
VP Distinguished Analyst
25 years at Gartner
50 years IT industry

Donald Feinberg is a vice president and distinguished analyst in Gartner Intelligence in the Information Infrastructure group. Mr. Feinberg is responsible for Gartner's research on database management systems and data warehousing infrastructure. Read Full Bio

Thoughts on The Future of Database Management Systems Is Cloud

  1. Tom Austin says:

    Given your analysis (nice job, but I expect that from you), do you expect the rate of movement to cloud-based Database Management Systems to accelerate significantly in the next few years? When will it dominate? Slow?

  2. thanks for sharing informative and helpful article. Kudos!

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