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FireBird burns through open source database market: Survey

EDC analyst Joe McKendrik said the survey respondents were asked to specify exactly which open-source database products they were using: MySQL, PostgreSQL, FireBird, or other. FireBird came out on top of most of the categories, he said.

FireBird is commonly used open source database for enterprise applications, as more database developers use FireBird for single purpose applications and FireBird is tied for the most used database for workgroup applications, EDC officials said. Further, MySQL and FireBird are locked in a virtual tie in the open source database space with each being used by just over half of database developers who use open source databases.

“The success of FireBird and MySQL are strong indicators of the strength of the open source database market and of the greater open source movement as a whole. Operating with tighter budgets and fewer resources, a database administrator can safely and productively use an open source alternative where he would have had to traditionally rely on a commercial product,” McKendrick said.

Other notable findings from the December 2004 survey of more than 400 database developers:

*30 per cent of database developers estimate that they can recover critical data within 6 to 30 minutes of a system outage and only 3 per cent estimate longer than 24 hours to restore mission-critical data. However, only 4 per cent of database developers estimate a recovery time of less than a minute for mission-critical data.

*About 60 per cent of database developers plan to expose or invoke database operations through Web services. The most likely database operations to be invoked are: Stored procedures, 22 per cent, SQL Query Web services, 18 per cent, and XML Query Web services, 15 per cent.

McKendrick said the hiring of database professionals remains cautious work. More companies are hiring developers than cutting back, but hiring activity has cooled since the first half of 2004, he noted.

“More than one out of five respondents report that they have increased the sizes of their database development staffs over the last six months, compared to nine per cent that have cut back. In addition, reflecting the need to run lean data centres, the survey finds there has also been a cooling off of database administrator (DBA) hiring,” he said. “Over the past six months, one out of 10 added DBA staff, down from three out of 10 in the first half of 2004.”

In a surprising finding, the survey finds there’s less reliance on outsourcing as well. A smaller percent of development work is going to outsourcers, but this may be a reflection of the growing volume of work, much of it staying internal. Overall, the bottom line appears to be that companies are putting a lot more work on current database staffs.

More jobs are being integrated, McKendrik continued. Renewed growth in IT spending is bringing back demand for a range of database professionals, from managers to developers and administrators.

However, there is a new phenomenon becoming apparent within the DBA field. A new database skills set is emerging, blurring the roles between various types of database professional. The typical database professional is increasingly expected to have more business savvy, as well as the ability to integrate a range of technologies and applications. While 72 per cent of data managers expect DBAs to assume their traditional role of ensuring database performance, another 58 per cent also expect DBAs to tune SQL and application code. Close to six out of 10 respondents spend at least part of their time addressing integration issues, he said.

As the open source database market grows more diverse, many are off- budget implementations. Previous Evans Data surveys found MySQL to be the leading open-source database, but the current survey finds rising interest in PostgreSQL and Firebird as well. The main concern with these databases is the perceived levels of technical support and security features they can get from using open-source databases.

“Nevertheless, close to two out of three development sites use open-source databases in some capacity, a number that has risen since last year’s survey,” he said. “The leading reason for deploying open-source databases is to get around budget constraints imposed. Open-source databases are benefiting from the emphasis on total cost of ownership (TCO) in database selection and management which is the leading consideration in database selection.”

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