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Open Source Databases Continue Their Growth

Oracle may not want to go down the open source path, but open source is the path users prefer to take.

The fastest growing databases in 2014 and 2015 – MongoDB, Redis, Elasticsearch – were all open source platforms (Redis was ranked as the second fastest growing database).

Although Oracle is in the NoSQL database game, their business remains closed to open source.

They have stuck to the closed source model. Even MySQL, which purports to incorporate open source elements, still has Oracle controls all over it.  

Oracle remains the most widely used database in the world. But if the software giant continues to overlook open source as a viable threat, they could lose out on a large percentage of their customer base in the long run. 

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Oracle's database can cost users hundreds of thousands of dollars

Eventually, the licensing, service, support, and other ongoing fees that Oracle requires to use its proprietary software will turn off a certain segment of customers.

According to Bloomberg Business, “Licensing Oracle’s database can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on which of its numerous features customers choose to use.”  

That’s not to say open source databases don’t have associated costs. It’s how those costs are broken up and presented that has made all the difference.

Tech Crunch explained, “With regular, enterprise software, it’s often hard to convince customers to use the technology; on top of that, they have to pay for it. In open source, that decision process is often bifurcated, happening in two separate steps. Convincing people to use your software is much easier, because the product may be initially free.”

Specifically, the fee to download and set up open-source software is non-existent.

Any costs that are incurred thereafter are mostly support related, and even those costs can be avoided depending on what a company prioritizes in their investment plan.

The most notable group of organizations that are turning to open source is the startup community.

According to a Bloomberg survey of startups (worth $1 billion or more), none of the companies had a large Oracle database deployment in the works for their infrastructure.

The Bottom Line for Oracle

It would be wrong to say that Oracle is going to fold its tent overnight. That’s not going to happen, and that’s not the point, really.

Oracle is still going to command its share of the database market, and they may even continue to lead it.

However, their open-source competition is very real. Application developers have another alternative if they decide that all the bells and whistles that Oracle has to offer isn’t needed.

Think of it this way – Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, and Redbox are all alternative options to Comcast, Verizon, and satellite for TV and movie viewing.

The monthly paid subscription fees for the streaming video and content services are nothing in comparison to the monthly fees for cable.

So there is a large contingent of customers that have defected from cable, at least for the entertainment side (people are still using cable services for Internet).

They would rather pay less, even if they miss on certain programming.

In the case of Oracle, its database technology is still sophisticated enough and robust enough to sustain investing staying power.

For certain application functionality, open source technology just isn’t ready to compete.

Kellan Elliott-McCrea (CTO of Etsy Inc.) explained, “You’re still going to have a class of applications for which these open-source solutions are not yet ready, and that is the continued sweet spot for Oracle.”

But as open-source technology continues to evolve, that gap will close.

In the meantime, investors know that they have options outside of Oracle.

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Written by IBM BP Network