Survey Shows Companies Now Have More SQL Server Databases than Oracle Databases

If you’d have told a DBA or developer several years ago that companies would be running more SQL Server databases inhouse than any other database platform, they probably would have laughed at you. Even five years ago, SQL Server wasn’t considered to be an enterprise database. Now, according to Embarcadero Technologies’ Database Survey Report, 83 percent of respondents are running SQL Server in their database environment. Oracle came in second with 76.6 percent of respondents saying they have Oracle databases inhouse.

“Eight years ago, SQL Server, although it was on this graph, it was barely in the top four. Now, it’s number one. So you’re seeing the growth and penetration of SQL Server,” said Scott Walz, senior director of product management at Embarcadero Technologies. “[Microsoft has] taken what many considered in the mid-to-late 90s’ to be a departmental database, SQL Server, and they’ve brought it prime time with the release of 2005, and then followed that up with 2008. They’re moving to be on the front line of not only technology but also thought-leadership around the database.”

When asked which database platforms other than SQL Server our SQL Server Magazine readers use in the SQL Server Magazine 2010 Profile Study done by Readex Research, 40 percent of print magazine readers and 38 percent of email newsletter subscribers and web readers currently use Oracle. MySQL was the next highest in our survey, with 25 percent of print readers and 34 percent of email newsletter readers and web readers using the database product.

Although 37.7 percent of DBAs listed Oracle as the primary database they personally have worked with in the Database Survey Report, SQL Server wasn’t far behind with 26.2 percent. But when survey respondents were asked which database they’re currently working with, SQL Server topped Oracle 61.8 percent to 60.0 percent.

“If you’re a SQL Server professional and you wonder ‘Am I making the right choice?’ ‘Am I choosing the right platform to focus on?’ absolutely,” Walz said. “I think this shows that it’s out there and it’s not going to be going away any time soon.”

Of the survey respondents, 40.7 percent identified themselves as production DBAs, so it’s no surprise that the top task they’d like to automate that they currently perform manually is diagnosing production issues.

“Even in today’s world where there are products out there, a lot of folks are doing this manually.” said Walz. “It doesn’t surprise me because I’ve been in their shoes and it’s sometimes tough to get budget for products, for the software to help you with things, because at the end of the day you can get it done, it just takes you a lot longer.”

It also wasn’t surprising to find out that the top database task respondents wish they had more time to do is tuning, with fixing poor performing SQL Server code coming in a close second.

“My theory was that they were going to spend most of their time working around the tuning and performance area because that’s one area that it really takes the know-how to understand how the database works and the nuances of each platform,” Walz said. “And the survey backed it up that the tuning would be one of the biggest challenges.”

DBAs are trying to get their heads around multiple versions of the same database platform in addition to their other tasks. According to the survey, “The survey revealed that most of the respondents’ organizations are running two or more versions of the same database, with 50% running three or more. Only 15% of organizations are running one version of the same database, putting them in the minority.”

In addition to managing multiple versions of the same database platform, DBAs are tasked with managing multiple database platforms at one time. According to Walz, “About a third of the respondents manage 2, but when you factor in 3, over 50 percent manage two or three. I think it’s pretty safe to say gone are the days that a DBA can focus on a single platform and not have to be tasked with working with multiple platforms.”

The Database Survey Report revealed many other interesting facts, so I recommend taking a look at the full report. Are you and your company in line with what the survey reported or does your environment buck the trend? Let me know in the Comments section or by emailing me at mkeller@sqlmag.com.

Discuss this Blog Entry 1

on Dec 10, 2010
I've been in corporate IT for 5+ years and things have really changed. Our industry demands versatility. It's funny that you mention the most popular databases as (1) SQL Server (2) Oracle and (3) MySQL. I was just researching a development tool called Iron Speed that supports all three (only 1 other; Access)... Guess these tool providers are catching on.

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