Open source databases have achieved something that is akin to a revolution; they have caused a complete collapse in the price of the traditional database market.
The big three, Microsoft, Oracle and IBM, have all been pressed by market forces into releasing cut-down, free versions of their leading database software. The latest took place yesterday as IBM released the DB2 Express-C, which is a trimmed down version of its commercial product and limited to two processor servers (up to eight cores).
In effect, the traditional software vendors are rediscovering the benefits of an old way of doing marketing - shareware. It enlivened the lives of many of us and gave software, notably games, a chance to be shared and appreciated. The recipe for success is quite simple. Give your audience a taster and, if they are happy, then they might go out and pay for the full Monty.
Whether this technique will succeed in the corporate market is something that remains to be seen. The games market is very different from the database one, and free databases are only tools that won't generate revenues on their own, unless, of course, they are bundled with services.
I strongly believe that tackling the open source challenge from the price point is a lost battle. After all, as long as it does its job properly, the cost of a database package is often regarded as a secondary feature and that is often overlooked by traditional vendors.
Furthermore, as previously mentioned in one of my previous blogs, open source databases, like MySQL, are generally teamed up with other packages like Apache, Linux and PHP, thereby providing users with a coherent and homogeneous platform.