August 20, 2012 – Relational database management systems are expected to nearly double in market growth by 2016, driven by business intelligence demands and expanded adoption to tackle big data and unstructured information streams, according to a new report from IDC.

Last year, the RDBMS market hit $26 billion, up 15 percent from the previous year largely due to a surge in spending that was backlogged due to the economic downturn of the prior years. IDC slates the RDBMS market to notch a compound annual growth rate of 9.9 percent through 2016, when growth will hit $41.6 billion.

Similar to other IT markets, global economic concerns have tempered the percentage growth from RDBMS, says Carl Olofson, research VP for database management and data integration software at IDC. But the innovation and expansion in two particular tech sectors – business intelligence and big data – are also pulling along database system investment, according to the IDC report. Demonstrated ROI from automated decision management, graph databases and other BI enhancements have been the focus of some of the ongoing RDBMS investment. And big data, sometimes targeted as a source of RDBMS decline because of possibilities with new offerings, is actually driving more spending on larger data warehouses and transactional databases.

As this next wave of RDBMS takes hold and matures, Olofson says “new problem areas” like digesting social media data, streaming machine-generated data and real-time decision and application integration will lead to opportunities for new and developing vendors with the tech to handle NoSQL and dynamic schema databases. But the big concern on the vendor side of advancing database systems rests with in-memory, which Olofson calls “memory-based.”

“The big difference is that the internals of these systems are optimized for memory, not disk, which is a huge change from the way DBMS technology has worked since the ‘60s, and affects the core architecture of  ‘traditional’ DBMS,” says Olofson. “Every major vendor is working quietly, or, in some cases, not so quietly, to develop such technology and a path to it that does not disrupt their existing users.”

The three industries Olofson cited as most engaged in new RDBMS investment are the financial services sector, telecoms and logistics providers, though the analyst says that health care management enterprises are increasingly opting for the systems to handle scheduling, diagnoses and cost savings.

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