As a precursor to OSCON this week, Forrester stepped forward with a new report titled "Market Update: Open Source Databases," one that tags the current market for open source database market at $850 million, with growth to $1.2 billion by 2010. I haven't seen the entire report but I did get around to reading the excerpt available on Forrester's web site. I'd sum up my thoughts on the future of open source databases by saying that they will continue as a tool of choice for applications that are ants in comparisons to the sledgehammers of the database world (Oracle, IBM). Obviously, Sun's strategic vision for MySQL will play no small part in this picture. However, open source databases will fuel a great deal of the innovation that has yet to surface (think cloud computing, corporate Web 2.0 and improved forms of content management).
New types of applications that have yet to breach mainstream are already being developed atop open source databases. We saw this with MySQL and web applications and we'll continue to see a similar relationship develop between open source databases and application developers who sit closer to the cutting edge. Additionally, I'm looking for more and more consulting houses to begin offering implementation services for open source databases as the demand for newer types of solutions emerges. Still, it will remain difficult to determine just how big the pond is for open source databases since they will continue to power a great deal of applications in anonymity.
I also fully expect that open source database vendors will begin to better harmonize the potential of their communities with business models. As it stands, the open source community is the place to go for support with non-production deployments. And there are more effective ways to align this with the delivery of 24x7 premium support. Tiered layers of support patrons could emerge as a monetization vehicle that serves user who don't want to sign up for the traditional support contract but want a fast track for feedback to questions and issue resolution.
I've got the feeling that we'll also witness the emergence of Ingres as a more noted player in this segment. In the past, it has lacked the visibility of a MySQL or PostgreSQL/EnterpriseDB. However, since splitting from CA two years back, it has continued to build out a comprehensive set of database features. Still, the company needs to figure out how to gain back the implicit sense of credibility that being associated with CA brought it amongst the enterprise crowd.
Along the same lines I see Firebird retaining its occult-esque status with a subsection of developers who recognize its value as solid technology. At the current moment, Firebird lacks a cohesive face and/or supporting vendor so it continues to fly under the radar despite its relative strengths. It won't be able to establish enough penetration outside the developer community until the prospect of fully supported production deployments becomes a reality. Then again, I'm not so sure that's the ultimate goal of the project.