Unpacking Gartner’s assessment of IBM in the 2019 Magic Quadrant for Operational DBMS

Director Hybrid Data Management, IBM Analytics
Vice President, Development, IBM Private Cloud Analytics Platform

With the publication of Gartner’s 2019 Magic Quadrant (MQ) for Operational Database Management Systems, we were happy to see recognition of some of our key efforts from the past year. The integration of the Db2 common SQL engine and other rich features, edition simplification, commitment to multicloud and open source, and continued high-performance from our global support organization were praised as strengths among other notable AI benefits like machine learning optimization and natural language querying.

Yet, as always, Gartner listed some areas for improvement too. So we wanted to take the time to provide additional context on each of these areas. In doing so, we also hope to better illuminate the direction we’re taking for our IBM Hybrid Data Management (HDM) solutions as a whole.

Sales executionUnpacking Gartner’s assessment of IBM in the 2019 MQ for Operational DBMS

Gartner’s MQ mentioned falling sales in a growing market during 2018 and lack of new market expansion. However, we believe this is based on old data and limited to data that Gartner can see via IBM annual reports which have not talked about Db2. More recent information indicates that the IBM Db2 portfolio has been growing for 4 consecutive quarters as of Q3 2019. Gartner is only looking at the market growth through 2018, so it misses this year’s strong growth performance. 

It is also possible that new market expansion is trailing many of the more recent improvements made to the portfolio. For example, IBM is leading the industry with the introduction of the AI database. The ability to develop AI applications with Db2 and use AI to translate queries across platforms underscores Db2’s innovative edge and should lead to greater adoption from new clients in new areas. The market’s validation of the innovative steps IBM is taking is reflected in G2’s ranking of IBM in the “leader” category in the Best Relational Databases Software. In the emerging market of translytical data platforms, Forrester also ranked IBM in the “leader” category in its report, The Forrester Wave: Translytical Data Platforms, Q4 2019, citing that customers like the platform'sease of deployments, business capabilities, data security and overall total cost of ownership.

Furthermore, the ongoing commitment to delivering open source options should prove attractive to new markets. There is no one-size-fits-all database, so delivering open source choices allows businesses to place data in the repository of best fit. IBM can demonstrate its strong commitment to integrate across heterogeneous data services and unify the development and management experience through  our cloud database DBaaS portfolio, as well as the new Cloud Pak for Data platform.

Pricing and packaging

Pricing and packaging was another area where Gartner encouraged caution. Yet, they also admit that current changes IBM is making could result in significant improvements for 2020.  That trend may have already begun with two measures related to pricing improving year over year in Gartner’s survey.

There are several reasons why this is the case. Foremost, with the release of Db2 11.5, the number of licensing options has been consolidated from 13 to just three. This simplification would not have been recognized yet by current Db2 customers at the time Gartner talked with them. One of the three licensing options is a no-cost, full-featured version of Db2 that does not expire. Users can build from the very beginning, leveraging all features without functional restrictions. It is limited only by memory, storage and compute resources.  IBM offers a single licensing metric, virtual processor core (VPC) that is easy to understand and apply across a multi- or hybrid cloud data architecture. Pricing of DBaaS services is transparent, without hidden data transfer fees.

In addition, Db2 is available as a cartridge or extension of IBM Cloud Pak for Data, which makes it much easier to add additional capabilities as your needs change and grow. Database, data warehouse, data lake, and fast data options from the Db2 solution set can be deployed alongside solutions from other rungs of the AI ladder such as Watson Studio Open Scale. This flexibility means that customers can find the right balance of price and capabilities within a single platform.

Cloud growth

Gartner points out that IBM cloud DBMS revenue has fallen behind others and that existing customers may not know all of the options they have. While we certainly want to see revenue increase as more people become aware of our cloud offerings, this has little impact on functionality.

IBM is fully committed to delivering a plethora of multicloud data management options to fit the varied needs of the market. IBM Db2 on Cloud is deployable on IBM Cloud and AWS, designed so that our databases can meet clients where their data resides. This helps reduce vendor lock-in and adds flexibility to choose the deployment and consumption model that suits each business. For more information, we’ve created a Cloud Data Management Buyer’s Guide to help those considering cloud ask the questions that will lead to success.

IBM Db2 on Cloud is also designed with developers and business analysts in mind, to require little assistance from database administrators. A review in a popular technical magazine concurred, praised the solution’s usefulness for developers and business analysts.

Moreover, partnerships and acquisitions established over the last year bolster IBM cloud positioning. Partnerships with Enterprise DB, MongoDB, and Postgres have provided additional open source database options that can be deployed on the IBM Cloud.

But we haven’t stopped there. Since Gartner’s analysis, IBM has also included Db2 into IBM Cloud Pak for Data, which is built on Red Hat OpenShift container platform. It is a fully-integrated data and AI platform that can help modernize how businesses collect, organize and analyze data and infuse AI throughout their organizations.  As part of Cloud Pak for Data, Db2 can be run not only on IBM Cloud but also Alibaba cloud, AWS, Microsoft Azure and GCP as well other multicloud options. 

Our vision for the future

IBM expects to see continued growth in the future as a greater number of businesses gain access to our broad range of data management offerings. By adding AI capabilities, our commitment to a complete portfolio of data services, choice and availability across different deployment targets, unification and simplification of the developer and user experience, simplified purchasing options and strategic partnerships with open source database vendors allows IBM to offer a differentiated and compelling experience to all types of enterprise clients.

Learn more about IBM’s ability to meet your data management needs by reading the 8 ways to modernize your data management eBook or scheduling a no-cost, one-on-one conversation with one of our experts.