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2023 should prove to be an interesting year for databases

2022 was a year of the most accelerated change in the economy of technology I have ever seen. In January 2022 there were not enough people for the work - by December 2022 there was not enough work for the people. But this is just a short correction to an upward trajectory in the creation, consumption and analysis of data required to succeed in business.

At the end of 2022, Gartner has come out with their latest "Magic Quadrant for Cloud Database Management Systems" In this author's endeavor to focus on the facts - this is a good place to start. But also a place to consider the trending of certain vendors.

An interesting assumption stated included:

By 2025, 90% of new data and analytics deployments will be through an established data ecosystem, causing consolidation across the data and analytics market.

Even since the report was posted on December 13, 2022, this has already begun. Consider Marklogic being acquired by Progress [press release]. But this is not unlike any other merger-and-acquisition activity we see in high technology, They tend to come from a few lenses:

  • A larger legacy vendor with no real top line revenue growth but an annuity maintenance stream buying a weaker player for their annuity revenues. Consider OpenText buying Microfocus. One organization with old-and-tired software acquiring another with old-and-tired software.

  • Legacy large player acquires to get into an new or adjacent market. Consider Oracle buying Cerner. Even as you read the motivation, it is still not about growing topline revenues but more EBITA.

  • Growing player in a market acquires to broaden their offering and presence in their primary market. Consider Snowflake acquiring Streamlit (for deeper Python presence), Snowflake acquiring Applica (for deeper unstructured capability) and Snowflake acquiring Myst (for those IoT/time series data sets). All of these to make their data platform have answers for a broader set of data types and use cases.

Within 6 weeks of the Gartner report the Progress/Marklogic merger takes of of the players off the board. Let us consider those others who would will go thru hard times, be acquiring or acquired:

  • Databricks - They have not IPO yet and could be a target for someone.

  • Teradata - Layoffs in 2022 and their Glassdoor reviews by employees does not show a positive future.

  • Oracle - The database business is eroding. For every 10 conversations I have with IT executives 8 have active programs to reduce their Oracle foot print. They have gone through rounds of layoffs and will continue to do so in 2023.

  • SingleStore - They want to get acquired. CEO turnover, layoffs and well into their series-F round of funding. This will happen in 2023.

Where there are issues with this chart around with those cloud vendors who take other database technology and create a DBaaS service around it - would you consider them a fit? For instance, AWS and their offers are built around mostly open-source and OEM technology. At least Microsoft brought us SqlServer and Google their BigQuery engine.

A few organizations that show the most promise:

  • Snowflake - This author has not been shy in his impression of this technology and how aggressive they are in evolving their capabilities both organically and through acquisition. They are changing the way technology is consumed and making the most platform available to everyone. Always entertaining to read Gartner's "Cautions" about a vendor as they call out (1) "Predicting spend", (2) "Clarity in feature availability" and (3) "Scope of use". From hands-on-experience, the strengths out-weight the weaknesses. They were just voted "DBMS of the Year" of DB-Engines for a 2nd year.

  • Postgres-oriented - I have known about Postgres while at DARPA and began teaching at Berkeley around Dr Michael Stonebreaker - the creator of Postgres. But what all open-source projects needs is a for-profit entity to help it evolve. Rather we think what Confluent means to Kafka, Red Hat has done for Linux or now what vendors like EDB are doing for Postgres. In a recent conversation with Tom Rieger at EDB, we spoke about why this is a necessity and a future article will focus on that interview. But this world is more than EDB, you have Crunchy Data, Percona, Fujitsu and others bringing prominence to Postgres. Just as Snowflake has been a winner with DB-Engines, Postgres over the last 6 years has won the honor 3 times, been 2nd once and 3rd once. Not considered the 4th most popular database only behind Oracle, MySQL and SqlServer.

After the Gartner Data and AI event in the spring, expect an update.

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