Top 10 Enterprise Database Systems to Consider in 2015

By Kenneth Hess (Send Email)
Posted May 1, 2015

How far back does your knowledge of databases go — late-1980s, mid-1990s, five years ago? If so, you might not recognize some of the old timers in this list. You'll also do a double take if you didn't know many of them have their roots in the mid-to-late 1970s. It would be hard to argue that the database market is not mature.

Got data, big or small? Need a database server, on-premises or in the cloud? Chances are you'll be considering at least one of these leading enterprise database systems to meet your needs.

It's also highly competitive, and enterprise database systems come packed with features from hot backups to high-availability to extensive cloud services. These database systems range in price from free to tens of thousands of dollars.

There's no single correct answer for every data problem. Nor is there a perfect database system; each has its own set of features and shortcomings. Here's a primer of the top enterprise database systems on the market in 2015 to help you determine which solution will likely work best for you.

1. Oracle Oracle DB

Oracle began its journey in 1979 as the first commercially available relational database management system (RDBMS). Oracle's name is synonymous with enterprise database systems, unbreakable data delivery and fierce corporate competition from CEO Larry Ellison. Powerful but complex database solutions are the mainstay of this Fortune 500 company.

The current release of Oracle's RDBMS is Oracle 12c. The "c" stands for cloud and is reflective of Oracle's work in extending its enterprise RDBMS to enable firms to consolidate and manage databases as cloud services when needed via Oracle's multitenant architecture and in-memory data processing capabilities.

2. SQL Server Microsoft SQL Server

Say what you may about Microsoft, but its profitability exceeds all other tech companies, and SQL Server helped put it there. Sure, Microsoft's desktop operating system is everywhere, but if you're running a Microsoft Server, you're likely running SQL Server on it.

SQL Server's ease of use, availability and tight Windows operating system integration makes it an easy choice for firms that choose Microsoft products for their enterprises. Currently, Microsoft promotes SQL Server 2014 as theplatform for both on-premises and cloud databases and business intelligence solutions.

Microsoft also touts SQL Server 2014 in helping enterprises build mission-critical applications with high-performance, in-memory security technology across OLTP (online transaction processing), data warehousing, business intelligence and analytics.


Big Blue puts the big into data centers with DB2. The latest release of DB2, DB2 10.5, runs on Linux, UNIX, Windows, the IBM iSeries and mainframes. IBM has pitted its DB2 system squarely in competition with Oracle's, via the International Technology Group, and the results showed significant cost savings for those that migrate to DB2 from Oracle. How significant? How does 34 percent to 39 percent for comparative installations over a three-year period sound?

IBM DB2 10.5, or the DB2 "Cancun Release," is also the only database fully optimized for the IBM Power Systems POWER8 processor and the company's Power 8 server systems.

4. SAP Sybase ASE SAP Sybase SAE

Sybase is still a major force in the enterprise market after 25 years of success and improvements to its Adaptive Server Enterprise product. Although its market share dwindled for a few years, it has seen a bump in the next-generation transaction processing space following being acquired by Sybase in 2010 and relabeled as SAP Sybase Adaptive Server Enterprise (ASE). Sybase has also thrown a considerable amount of weight behind the mobile enterprise by delivering partnered solutions to the mobile device market.

5. PostgreSQL PostgreSQL

PostgreSQL, or simply Postgres, is an open-source object-relational database management system (ORDBMS) that hides in such interesting places as online gaming applications, data center automation suites and domain registries. PostgreSQL also enjoys some high-profile duties at Skype and Yahoo! PostgreSQL is in so many strange and obscure places that it might deserve the moniker, "Best Kept Enterprise Database Secret." PostgreSQL's current stable release is 9.4.x.

PostgreSQL runs on a wide variety of operating systems, including Linux, Windows, FreeBSD and Solaris. And as of OS X 10.7 Lion, Mac OS X features PostgreSQL as its standard default database in the server edition. PostgreSQL benefits from more than 25 years of development as a free, open-source database system, and it includes enterprise-grade features comparable to Oracle and DB2 such as full ACID compliance for transaction reliability and Multi-Version Concurrency Control for supporting high concurrent loads.

6. MariaDB Enterprise MariaDB

MariaDB Enterprise is a fully open source database system, with all code released under GPL, LGPL or BSD. MariaDB originated in 2009 as a community-driven fork of the MySQL RDBMS and is led by the original developers of MySQL, who created the fork following concerns over MySQL's acquisition by Oracle. The current stable series of MariaDB Enterprise is powered by MariaDB 10.x.

MariaDB has seen its popularity explode recently at the expense of MySQL, particularly in its support by popular Linux distributions. In 2013 alone, Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) ditched MySQL for MariaDB, Fedora opted for MariaDB over MySQL in its Fedora 19 release, and both openSUSE and Slackware Linux made similar switches to MariaDB over MySQL. Wikipedia also adopted MariaDB over MySQL as its backend database in 2013.

Another key factor in moving MariaDB ahead of MySQL is its enhanced query optimizer and other performance-related improvements, which give the database system a noticeable edge in overall performance compared to MySQL.

Next Page: Top Ten Enterprise Databases in 2015: Next Five

Ken Hess is a freelance writer who writes on a variety of open source topics including Linux, databases and virtualization. He is also the coauthor of Practical Virtualization Solutions.

Forrest Stroud is a senior enterprise IT editor and writer with more than 15 years experience. Forrest has managed and written for some of the most recognizable technology content sites on the Internet, including ServerWatch, Webopedia, WinPlanet and Enterprise Storage Forum.

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Next Page: Top Ten Enterprise Databases in 2015: Next Five

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