SQL Server Named DBMS of the Year

Way back in the summer of 2014, I told you about how I used DB-Engines to determine the popularity of various data management tools and vendor platforms. At that time, I explained how I used and Google Trends to see where the overall trends that I’m interested in are headed. Staying up with the trends isn’t just for fashionistas!

We are the Champions, My Friend

The surprise came when Microsoft SQL Server was announced as the DBMS of the year for 2016 by For the 12 months of 2016, SQL Server experienced a steep rise in popularity as a search topic, the greatest increase among any of the 315 data management platforms tracked by the website:

Microsoft SQL Server is the database management system that gained more popularity in our DB-Engines Ranking within the last year than any of the other 315 monitored systems. We thus declare Microsoft SQL Server as the DBMS of the Year 2016 - by Matthias Gelbmann, Paul Andlinger, 4 January 2017

 By comparison, MySQL was up slightly and Oracle, while still the leading DBMS, was down quite a bit.

This award came on the heels of a strong year of rankings growth, brought on by announcement of the SQL Server port to Linux, which roused a lot of interest in the wider IT world. In addition, SQL Server did particularly well in the job offers category of the DB-Engines scoring methodology, as well as the social media aspect in which IT professionals mention SQL Server as a key area of focus in their LinkedIn profiles. As I’ve told you in past columns (Feb 11, 2015), it’s a great time to be a SQL Server DBA.

MySQL earned the silver medal in DBMS rankings, having successfully dispelled the fears of the open source community that Oracle’s ownership would lead to stagnation. And the bronze medal went to PostgreSQL (my personal favorite open source RDBMS) due to significant innovation with two new releases (version 9.5 and 9.6), UPSERT capabilities, row-level security, and many new big data features and improvements. MongoDB earned a very respectable fourth place, highest among the NoSQL data platforms.

And We’ll Keep Fighting ‘til the End

While keeps track of a variety of metrics that tell how popular and widespread a DBMS platform might be, Gartner’s Magic Quadrant is the best-known analysis of the technical merits of the various data management platforms. Gartner is explicit in mentioning that vendors that rank in the "Leaders" quadrant need not be market leaders, though they must pass specific “gating criteria” for revenue generation. Still, Gartner’s evaluation has mostly to do with the combined score of a vendor on their completeness of vision and ability to execute.

Here again, Microsoft leads the pack in THREE of the most important data-related categories. In Gartner’s 2016 Magic Quadrant for BI and Analytics, Microsoft led the field considerably on the strength of the Power BI 2.0 release and other key analytics and visualization capabilities, such as the Cortana Analytics feature set. Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Data Warehouse and Data Management Solutions also put Microsoft SQL Server in the Leaders quadrant. And most meaningful to me as a DBA and Enterprise Architect, Microsoft also led in the Magic Quadrant for Operational Database Management Systems on the strength of its remarkable innovation capabilities after revamping their Development processes to support the rapid release schedule of the Azure cloud computing product line.

Furthermore, in Gartner’s 2016 Magic Quadrant for Advanced Analytics, Microsoft scored strongest among the competitors in their completeness of vision. (They just missed the Leaders quadrant). However, Gartner instituted a new scoring methodology at that time, shifting a lot of their BI product analysis from their Magic Quadrant report to a new market guide. This change moved Reporting Services (SSRS) and Analysis Services (SSAS) to the market guide, along with vendors quite a few vendors such as SAP, Lumira, and IBM’s Watson Analytics.

On-Premises Accolades

These latest awards closely match the choices that database managers are making wherever I speak with customers and users. Perhaps it is due to my close association with the broader SQL Server community that I have more first-hand experience with users who are bullish on SQL Server. But I am consistently seeing that users are growing their Microsoft SQL Server investment, while holding steady or even shrinking their investments in Oracle, DB2, and even older legacy systems.

So what is your experience when choosing where to place new database applications? What are you adopting for the latest round of in-house IT projects? Let me know what you think.