MySQL vs. NoSQL and NewSQL – survey results

Back in January we launched a survey of database users to explore the competitive dynamic between MySQL, NoSQL and NewSQL databases, and to to discover if MySQL usage is really declining – as had been indicated by the results of a prior survey.

The publication of the associated report took longer than expected, mostly because we expanded its scope to include revenue and growth estimates for the MySQL ecosystem, NoSQL and NewSQL sectors respectively, and with that report now published I am pleased to fulfil our promise to share the survey results.

We seem to be having some random embedding issues so for now the results can be found on SlideShare, adapted from the presentation given at OSBC earlier this week. For greater context, we have also included an explanation of each slide, below:

Slide 2: Provides an overview of the associated report – MySQL vs NoSQL and NewSQL 2011:2015, which is available here.

Slide 3: Explains why we launched the report. We once described as the crown jewel of the open source database world, since its focus on Web-based applications, its lightweight architecture and fast-read capabilities, and its brand differentiated it from all of the established database vendors and made for a potentially complementary acquisition. Today, the competitive situation is very different.

Slide 4: Oracle’s MySQL business faces competition from the rest of the MySQL ecosystem, as illustrated in Slide 5, many of which have emerged following Oracle’s acquisition of Sun/MySQL.

Slide 6: The emergence of these alternatives was triggered, in part, by concern about the future of MySQL. A previous 451 survey,conducted in November 2009, showed that there was real concern about the acquisition, with only 17% of MySQL users believing Oracle should be allowed to acquire MySQL.

Slide 7: The 2009 survey also showed that while 82.1% of respondents were already using MySQL, that figure was expected to drop to 72.3% by 2014. That survey was conducted amid a climate of fear, uncertainty and doubt regarding the future of MySQL, and one of the drivers for our current report was to see if that predicted decline occurred.

Slide 8: To put this in context, we asked the current survey sample (which included 205 database users) about their reaction to the acquisition. While the vast majority of MySQL users reported that they continued to use MySQL where appropriate, 5% indicated that they were more inclined to use MySQL, and 26% said they were less inclined to use MySQL. Not surprisingly the proportion of users less inclined to use MySQL was much higher amongst those abandoning MySQL than those sticking with MySQL.

Slide 9: We also asked respondents to rate Oracle’s ownership of MySQL on a range of very good to very bad. Overall, the balance tipped in favour of a negative perception of Oracle’s track record, while there was naturally a more negative perception of Oracle amongst those abandoning MySQL compared to MySQL mainstays. However, the results showed that the percentage of respondents rating the company’s performance ‘very good’ and ‘very bad’ was actually quite similar for both abandoners and mainstays. While those abandoning MySQL are more likely to have a negative perception of Oracle, it is not necessarily safe to assume that Oracle’s actions and strategy are the cause of the abandonment. Clearly there are other competitive forces at work.

Slide 10: Not least the emergence of NoSQL, as illustrated in Slide 11, and NewSQL, as illustrated in Slide 12.

Slide 13: Based on some very high profile examples of projects migrating from MySQL to NoSQL, there is a common assumption that NoSQL and NewSQL pose a direct, immediate threat to MySQL. We believe the competitive dynamic is more complex.

Slide 14: While 49% of those survey respondents abandoning MySQL planned on retaining or adopting NoSQL databases, only 12.7% said they had actually deployed NoSQL databases as a *direct replacement* for MySQL.

Slide 15: In comparison, there is much greater overlap between NewSQL and MySQL, but of a complementary nature. 33% of respondents retaining MySQL had considered, tested or deployed NewSQL database technologies, while approximately 75% of the NewSQL revenue for 2011 is from vendors that we also consider part of the MySQL ecosystem.

Slide 16: The results of our 2012 survey show that MySQL is currently the most popular database amongst our survey sample, used by 80.5% of respondents today.

Slide 17: However, it’s popularity is again expected to decline to 2014 and 2017. This indicates an accelerated decline in the use of MySQL, compared the findings of our 2009 survey. While that survey was conducted amid a climate of fear, uncertainty and doubt regarding the future of MySQL we are not aware of any specific reason why the 2012 sample, which was self-selecting, should have a disproportionately negative attitude to MySQL or Oracle.

Slide 18: MySQL’s predicted decline of 26.4 percentage points between 2012 and 2017 compares to a predicted decline of just 9.3 percentage points for Microsoft SQL Server, and only 5.9 percentage points for Oracle Database. In comparison, MariaDB, Apache Cassandra and Apache CouchDB are expected to increase in usage by 3.0 percentage points or greater between 2011 and 2017.

Slide 19: Although alternative MySQL distributions including MariaDB, Drizzle and Percona Server are expected to see increased adoption over the next five years, they are not growing at the same rate that MySQL is declining.

Slide 20: So where are those abandoning MySQL going to? Looking specifically at the 55 MySQL users who expect to abandon it by 2017 (which is admittedly a small sample, and therefore not to be considered statistically relevant) we see that PostgreSQL is the most popular database being retained or adopted over the same period, followed by Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, MongoDB, and MariaDB.

Slide 21: This only tells part of the story, however. Just because a company is retaining Oracle Database, for example, does not necessarily mean that Oracle Database is being used as a replacement for the abandoned MySQL. We therefore also specifically asked survey respondents which databases they had considered, tested or deployed as a direct replacement for MySQL. The response from the 55 respondents planning to abandon MySQL again saw PostgreSQL, MariaDB and MongoDB as the most popular answers, followed by Apache CouchDB and Apache HBase.

Slide 22: While NoSQL database were well-represented in this list, we saw that anyone considering NoSQL considered multiple NoSQL databases. Per respondent, NoSQL databases were the least considered of all alternatives by existing MySQL users.

Slide 23: The survey results suggest that MongoDB is the most often considered, tested or deployed as a replacement or complement for MySQL, followed by Apache CouchDB, Apache HBase, Apache Cassandra/DataStax, and Redis.

Slide 24: NewSQL technologies that improve the scalability and performance of MySQL scored well, with eight of the top 10 most considered NewSQL technologies being directly complementing MySQL. Of the other two, one (Drizzle) is a derivative of MySQL, and the other (Clustrix) can also be used in a complementary manner as part of a MySQL cluster, although in the long-term is positioned as a direct alternative.

Slide 25: MariaDB is the member of the MySQL ecosystem most often considered, tested or deployed as a replacement or complement for MySQL, followed by Continuent Tungsten, Percona Server, MySQL Cluster, and Amazon RDS.

Slide 26: More than half of all MySQL users had considered, tested or deployed another relational database as a direct replacement, while over 40% had considered, tested or deployed a caching technology to complement MySQL. The memcached caching technology was the most widely-deployed of all the technologies we asked about, followed closely by PostgreSQL, which supported anecdotal evidence that a number of MySQL users are migrating to the other major open source transactional database.

Slide 27: For the record, the survey had 205 respondents. Primary job roles among respondents included: director/manager of IT infrastructure (18.0%); architect/engineer (17.6%); developer/programmer (15.6%); database/systems administrator (14.6%); consultant (14.1%); VP level or above (13.7%); analyst (3.4%); and line-of-business manager (2.9%).

Further survey analysis and perspective on the competitive dynamic between MySQL, NoSQL and NewSQL is available in the MySQL vs NoSQL and NewSQL report, which also includes market sizing and growth predictions for the three segments.

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