451 Research: DBaaS poised to drive next-generation database growth

By Matt Aslett; special to InsightaaS.com from 451 Research

Aslett_MattInsightaaS perspective: 451 Research is one of the world’s leading sources of insight into cutting edge technologies — especially in areas that are important to InsightaaS and our principals, including cloud, analytics, and sustainable IT.

InsightaaS.com works with 451 Research to bring occasional thought leadership pieces to our readers. This report, “DBaaS poised to drive next-generation database growth,” illustrates why we are committed to this practice. In it, 451 research director Matt Aslett provides hard data to quantify an emerging trend — the migration of databases to the cloud. From a research perspective, this is a complex issue: driven by many different possible use cases, adoption rates are growing rapidly (Aslett’s forecast calls for a CAGR of 86% from 2012-2016), and the underlying technology itself is complex. In this piece, extracted from one of 451’s long-form research reports, Aslett provides a clear perspective on how DBaaS will affect IT strategies over the next several years.

Note: if you are interested in obtaining a subscription to the 451 Research Data Management & Analytics program, please contact 451 directly, or contact InsightaaS at reportinfo@insightaas.com.


We have been tracking the availability and adoption of databases in the cloud for many years. While there has been a huge variety of services and suppliers to choose from, we have mainly seen adoption limited to a relatively small set of users, specifically for development and test workloads. While this continues to be the case, our latest database survey and market-sizing research suggests that we might be about to see an increase in database-as-a-service (DBaaS) adoption.

Not only that, the research indicates that DBaaS is one of the driving forces encouraging adoption of next-generation databases, promoting growth in the MySQL ecosystem and the adoption of NoSQL databases. However, with DBaaS dominated by a single supplier (Amazon Web Services), emerging DBaaS suppliers need to find a gap in the market if they are to exploit the opportunities for growth.

According to our latest survey of database users — involving 276 individuals surveyed in February and March — only 8% of respondents were currently using a database-as-a-service offering. However, the survey showed that a greater proportion of respondents intend to use DBaaS offerings during 2013. Asked if they intended to use a relational DBaaS offering this year, 32.6% of all respondents said that they did. While that still means that more than two-thirds of all respondents had no intention of using a DBaaS offering at all in 2013, it does show that more than one-quarter of respondents that are not already using DBaaS intend to use DBaaS this year.

As for what they intend to use it for, 17.8% of all survey respondents indicated that they would be using relational DBaaS offerings for development and test environments in 2013, supporting our anecdotal evidence that dev and test is still the primary workload for DBaaS environments. The next most popular workload cited was production Web applications (12.6% of all respondents), with the rest of the usage spread between additional capacity (6.3%), backup (5.6%), analytic apps (5.2%), transactional apps and enterprise apps (both 4.1%), and departmental apps (2.6%).

The pattern was similar among those that are already using DBaaS offerings, with 45.5% of existing DBaaS users running dev and test workloads, 36.4% running production Web applications, 18.2% additional capacity, 13.6% analytic apps and enterprise apps, 9.1% backup/transactional apps and enterprise apps, and 4.5% departmental apps.

Although we are dealing with a small sample size of existing DBaaS users, it is interesting to note that 13.6% of existing DBaaS users said they did not intend to use a relational DBaaS offering in 2013. Other survey results also suggested that DBaaS providers may have issues persuading some existing users to stay loyal.

For example, although 81.8% of users of DBaaS offerings said they were using Amazon RDS for MySQL in 2013, just 54.5% said they expected to do so in 2015, and only 40.9% said they expected to do so in 2018. There was a similar pattern of predicted decline for users of Google Cloud SQL and Amazon’s other RDS offerings.

DBaaS faces a number of ongoing challenges to wider adoption: security, privacy and management concerns; reliability and performance concerns; complexity of large-scale migration and configuration; and incompatible software and licensing.

Overall adoption is expected to rise, however, with Amazon RDS for MySQL usage growing from 6.5% of the total survey sample in 2013 to 6.9% in 2018; Google Cloud SQL growing from 1.4% of all respondents today to 2.9% in 2018; and Amazon RDS for Oracle growing from 1.1% of all respondents today to 1.8% in 2013. Additionally, while just 0.4% of all respondents were using RDS for SQL Server today, 3.3% of all respondents said they expected to be using it in 2018.

This indicates an ongoing lead for MySQL-based DBaaS offerings going forward. Both Amazon RDS for MySQL and Google Cloud SQL are based on the MySQL database, along with HP Cloud RDB for MySQL, Rackspace Cloud Databases, Drizzle and SkySQL Cloud Data Suite (although, to be specific, the latter is based on the MariaDB variant of MySQL). Amazon RDS for MySQL was the most popular choice by some margin (81.8% of DBaaS users), followed by Google Cloud SQL (18.2% of DBaaS users) and Amazon RDS for Oracle (13.6% of DBaaS users).

In fact, our market-sizing research suggests that MySQL-as-a-service offerings are poised to grow their influence within the wider MySQL ecosystem. We estimated that MySQL-as-a-service providers accounted for 7% of all MySQL ecosystem revenue in 2011, and we now estimate that MySQL-as-a-service providers accounted for 20.5% of total MySQL ecosystem revenue in 2012.

Our projections indicate that revenue from DBaaS offerings based on MySQL will grow at a CAGR of 81.0% between 2012 and 2016, while the CAGR for revenue from on-premises MySQL deployments will be 33.1%. As such, we expect revenue from MySQL as a service will represent 46.6% of the overall MySQL ecosystem revenue by 2016.

Our market-sizing estimates also indicate that DBaaS will be a driving force in the adoption of NoSQL databases — growing from 22.1% of total NoSQL revenue today to 61.2% in 2016 — and that the DBaaS market as a whole is poised to grow considerably. We estimate that DBaaS providers generated revenue of $150m in 2012, but that revenue will more than double in 2013 and will grow at a CAGR of 86% to reach $1.8bn by 2016.

There are a number of reasons why we expect DBaaS revenue to rise: increased confidence in the cloud itself as a platform for mainstream applications; greater understanding of the suitability of DBaaS for production database workloads; an increasing variety of DBaaS providers to choose from; and lowered barriers to adoption based on falling prices.

While this sounds like good news for the various MySQL-as-a-service startups, it should be noted that a single supplier — Amazon Web Services — accounted for more than 90% of all DBaaS revenue in 2012, and that it is expected to grow its share of the market between now and 2016.

Thus, for emerging DBaaS suppliers, the competitive challenge is not to displace the incumbent on-premises relational database suppliers, but to find a gap in the market that has not been exploited by Amazon and its dominant position as a supplier of cloud services.

Further details of our market-sizing estimates and survey results involving the MySQL and DBaaS sectors, as well as NoSQL and NewSQL, can be found in our Long-Format Report, Next-Generation Operational Databases: 2012-2016.

For more information on the 451 Research Data Management & Analytics program and/or the Next-Generation Operational Databases: 2012-2016 report, please contact 451 directly, or contact InsightaaS at reportinfo@insightaas.com.