Open-source databases gaining favor

Big companies are warming up to open-source database software as an alternative to Microsoft products, according to a new study.

Big companies are warming up to open-source database software, according to a new study.

The open-source database grew rapidly in popularity over the last year, according to results from a

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survey released Monday by research company Evans Data. Usage of MySQL for developing applications rose 30 percent over the past year, while usage of Microsoft's SQL Server and Access databases increased 6 percent, according to the survey of 550 developers conducted last month.

Overall, Microsoft's products continue to dominate the database development market. But open-source software's price and its ability to integrate with other software mesh well with the priorities of application developers, said Evans Data analyst Joe McKendrick. Programmers often select a single database for both application development and deployment.

"Concerns over stability, expense and how well a database plays with others are leading a quickly growing number of...companies to seriously consider and implement an open source database solution," McKendrick said in a statement. "We expect this trend to continue as the open source offerings are continually improved upon."

Database buying patterns have shifted significantly in the past few years, with a sharp focus on cost-effectiveness. Database companies, which once touted speed and the ability to handle very demanding processing tasks, have boosted efforts to make databases more reliable and cheaper to operate.

The Evans Data study found that interest in low cost spilled over to the choice of operating system as well, with 62 percent of database developers expecting some cost savings by using Linux.

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Developers are also keen to string together several cheaper database servers in a grid configuration as a cheaper alternative to pricier high-end database servers. Twelve percent of companies in the Evans Data survey said they have deployed or plan to implement grid computing within the next year. An additional 9 percent expect to have a grid strategy in place in the next two years.

Another finding from the survey reflects the growing interest in using company data to improve business performance. Queries around business performance analysis were the top database analysis performed last year, growing 20 percent over 2002, according to Evans Data.

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