Things change slowly in the data platform market. Even the expansion of the number of vendors driven by NoSQL, NewSQL, Hadoop and DBaaS – which some have compared to a cambrian explosion – has occurred over the best part of a decade. While the timeframe is of course much shorter, the evolution of the database market could perhaps better be compared to the expansion of the universe following the big bang.
The number of vendors has increased significantly but the impact on the established database vendors has, so far, been negligible in terms of revenue and market share. While the upstarts are growing faster, the established giants also continue to expand – both organically and through acquisition. Plus ça change.
The database market is undeniably over-crowded – unsustainably so. Inevitably many of the data platforms startups that have emerged in recent years will not survive. While some have predicted a coming extinction event to redress the balance the truth is that even when database vendors disappear they rarely do so in dramatic fashion. The demise is more often slow and protracted, as executives tend to double-down on proven revenue streams and reposition from niche to smaller niche before finally either selling out for peanuts or throwing in the towel.
One of the theories about the fate of the universe suggests the expansion will eventually slow and the universe will begin to contract in a “big crunch”. As far as the data platforms market is concerned I believe we have already seen the rate of growth begin to slow. Rather than a mass extinction event, it seems more likely we will see a slow big crunch style contraction. It won’t be dramatic, but then the data platforms market rarely is.