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Why Open-Source Databases Are Gaining Popularity

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With recent advancements, open-source database management systems are becoming more viable options than in the past.

In today’s world, organizations have a variety of options for databases. In earlier days, most of the database management systems (DBMSs) were closed source, so the options were limited. But now, with the introduction of open-source databases, industry experts are analyzing thoroughly before selecting a DBMS. Open source as an industry is gaining momentum, and databases are also following that same path. With the use of open-source databases, you are free to implement the system as per your requirements, even share it and develop it to best suit your business needs.

In recent years, a large variety of database management systems have appeared on the market, so organizations have a wide range of options to choose from. They come from different reliable vendors like Oracle, Microsoft, SAP and IBM. Some newcomers in the field include notable vendors like Google, Amazon and Rackspace, who are also gaining much popularity with their databases.

History of Open-Source Databases

Open-source DBMS is still a relatively new concept. The earliest version of an open-source database management system was MySQL, launched in 1995. Since then, a lot of changes have been made to its workings.

In 2008, Sun Microsystems bought MySQL AB, the company which created
MySQL. Now, many newer solutions in the field of open-source database
management systems are arriving in the market, while older players like
MySQL are being developed further.

Emerging Trends

The emerging concept of open-source software (OSS) is impacting various fields of software, including that of DBMSs. Many open-source database management systems are appearing, like the MySQL platform. The main focus of such platforms is to cut the various costs added for licensing and enhance the organization’s performance through the extra efficiency of open-source platforms. However, until a few years ago, these kinds of database management systems were not generally preferred, as they still lacked many features necessary for better management. But now, with the advent of MySQL, the world of open-source DBMS seems to be undergoing a transformation. (To learn more about open source, see Open Source: Is It Too Good to Be True?)

Closed-Source Databases and Their Constraints

The debate of open-source vs. closed-source database management systems is a hot topic, and there is constant competition between the two types of systems. Though many prefer the older closed-source data management systems, there are many vulnerabilities present in them. One of the biggest constraints in such database management systems is their closed source code. Due to this, their source code cannot be seen and cannot be checked for bugs and security issues by people outside the developing company. It also takes a lot of time for the development team to make a patch or an update available. Another major hurdle is that such software has expensive licenses, which expire over time and must be renewed. The databases cannot be re-coded according to one’s needs and cannot be distributed freely either.


Why Open-Source DBMS Is Gaining Popularity

Open-source database management systems are slowly gaining popularity in the market of database management systems. This popularity is due to the numerous features of OSS DBMSs (open-source software database management systems). These are powerful enough to be used easily with medium efficiency. The best part for businesses is that they are also completely free. Additionally, this kind of software can be modified by the user by changing its source code according to his or her preferences, and only a little knowledge of programming is needed. Thus, open-source data management systems are quite practical and they can be used by any user from nearly any field.

Can Open-Source DBMS Replace Closed-Source DBMS?

There is a lot of potential in open-source database management systems, and the industry is growing very quickly. According to research data from Evans Data Usage, the use of MySQL is growing exponentially, about 30 percent over the past year. It has also been revealed that the usage of closed-source database management systems like Microsoft SQL and Access increased by only 6 percent. However, closed-source DBMS solutions are still dominating the market.

But this situation is poised to change. Open-source software like open-source DBMS is gaining popularity. This is because of a few major features. The first is that it can really cut the costs needed for managing databases. They are an economical solution, considering they are practically free. They are perfect for newer companies who want to save on costs while still getting the job done. Another advantage is that it can integrate very easily with other open-source software, regardless of any difference in vendors. The developer can also modify OSS DBMSs according to their priorities.

However, when thinking about the replacement of closed-source DBMS solutions by open-source ones, we must properly assess their strengths and weaknesses, their performance and their accessibility. Hence, there is a lot to assess and examine before the adoption of such database systems. (For more on databases, see Database Administration Careers 101.)

Impact in the Industry

The impact of open-source DBMS has been tremendous. Gartner has reported that the rise in the use of open-source DBMS and the revenue collected by it grew by about 42.4 percent last year. This growth was very unusual and it is certainly much higher than earlier rates. Though open-source DBMS is a very small part of the overall DBMS society, with such growth rates, the revenue generated by open-source DBMS solutions is expected to reach more than $2 billion in the next year.

It is also being adopted at an even faster rate. About 73 percent of users using some kind of open-source software also use open-source DBMS due to its better performance and compatibility. Another factor is that the free distributions of database management software by vendors like IBM and Microsoft called “Express Editions” could not do much to stop the adoption of open-source DBMS.


Just like the advent of open-source software has revolutionized the software industry, open-source DBMS has revolutionized the database management system industry. Since its arrival, open-source DBMS has become increasingly popular, mainly due to its flexibility and cost-effectiveness. It has a lot of potential and can change the way the industry looks at DBMS systems.


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Kaushik Pal
Technology writer
Kaushik Pal
Technology writer

Kaushik is a technical architect and software consultant with over 23 years of experience in software analysis, development, architecture, design, testing and training. He has an interest in new technologies and areas of innovation. He focuses on web architecture, web technologies, Java/J2EE, open source software, WebRTC, big data and semantic technologies. He has demonstrated expertise in requirements analysis, architectural design and implementation, technical use cases and software development. His experience has covered various industries such as insurance, banking, airlines, shipping, document management and product development, etc. He has worked on a wide range of technologies ranging from large scale (IBM…