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Open source gains database management ground

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The use of open-source software for database management is growing as users seek to avoid vendor lock-in and reduce costs, according to a recent survey conducted by US-based Percona.

The survey also found that most companies run more than one database, often on more than one platform.

Survey respondents were located all over the world, with the largest group (26%) from the United States. They also represented companies of all sizes and from all industries, although a sizeable majority were from technology-focused companies.

Although the survey could be considered slightly biased, given that Percona supports open-source databases, a February 2018 Gartner report indicated a similar trend, with the added prediction that by 2022, over 70% of all new applications developed by corporate users would run on an open-source database management system (DBMS).

In addition, Gartner estimated that open-source DBMS technology would account for over 10% of database software spend by 2019.

A key finding of the Percona survey was that 62% of respondents said they used open-source software to avoid vendor lock-in, with respondents eight times more likely to adopt an open licence than the alternative. Other key reasons for the adoption of open source were to save costs (79.4%) and to benefit from having a community (over 50%).

Interestingly, those who listed vendor lock-in as a critical reason to adopt open source were, on average, also 10% less likely to buy support from a vendor, possibly because they viewed vendor support as just another form of lock-in.

However, the authors of the Percona report were quick to note the irony of the fact that while most survey respondents were "passionate open-source evangelists, championing cost-effectiveness, flexibility and freedom from vendor lock-in”, they nevertheless often found themselves tied to cloud vendors with a single solution and large monthly costs.

More than half of all respondents run at least some of their workload in the public cloud. About a third of them use a combination of private, public and on-premises cloud with AWS continuing to be the public cloud provider of choice, with over 50% of respondents using its cloud platform, followed equally by Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure.

Although database and cloud vendors have made, and continue to make, their databases more accessible and easier to use, there has also been a move towards more heterogeneous environments.

The survey found that when it comes to choosing a database, there is no ‘one size fits all'. Despite the best efforts by vendors to add features, users continue to choose the best database for the job, using the right database for the right application in a range of database environments.

In addition, over 90% of respondents reported using more than one database technology, with 89% using more than one open-source DBMS. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of respondents use multiple database types, running at least one relational plus a purpose-built database, while 54% run a purpose-built NoSQL non-relational database.

Despite the widespread and growing adoption of open source, the survey also found that many companies are still wary of open-source database technologies, largely because of a perceived lack of support, bugs, security and compliance.

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