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Operational Database Management Systems. Interview with Nick Heudecker

by Roberto V. Zicari on December 16, 2013

“Going forward, we see the bifurcation between relational and NoSQL DBMS markets diminishing over time.”–Nick Heudecker.

Gartner recently published a new report on “Operational Database Management Systems”. I have interviewed one of the co-authors of the report, Nick Heudecker, Research Director – Information Management at Gartner, Inc.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to you and yours!


Q1. You co-authored Gartner’s new report, “Magic Quadrant for Operational Database Management Systems”. How do you define “Operational Database Management Systems” (ODBMS)?

Nick Heudecker: Prior to operational DBMS, the common label for databases was OLTP. However, OLTP no longer accurately describes the range of activities an operational DBMS is called on to support. Additionally, mobile and social, elements of Gartner’s Nexus of Forces, have created new activity types which we broadly classify as interactions and observations. Supporting these new activity types has resulted in new vendors entering the market to compete with established vendors. Also, OLTP is no longer valid as all transactions are on-line.

Q2. What were the main evaluation criteria you used for the “Magic Quadrant for Operational Database Management Systems” report?

Nick Heudecker: The primary evaluation criteria for any Magic Quadrant consists of customer reference surveys. Vendors are also evaluated on market understanding, strategy, offerings, business model, execution, and overall viability.

Q3. To be included in the Magic Quadrant, what were the criteria that vendors and products had to meet?

Nick Heudecker: To be included in the Magic Quadrant, vendors had to have at least ten customer references, meet a minimum revenue number and meet our definition
of the market.

Q4. What is new in the last year in the Operational Database Management Systems area, in your view? What is changing?

Nick Heudecker: Innovations in the operational DBMS area have developed around flash memory, DRAM improvements, new processor technology, networking and appliance form factors. Flash memory devices have become faster, larger, more reliable and cheaper. DRAM has become far less costly and grown in size to greater than 1TB available on a server.
This has not only enabled larger disk caching, but also led to the development and wider use of in-memory DBMSs. New processor technology not only enables better DBMS performance in physically smaller servers, but also allows virtualization to be used for multiple applications and the DBMS on the same server. With new methods of interconnect such as 10-gigabit Ethernet and Infiniband, the connection between the storage systems and the DBMS software on the server is far faster. This has also increased performance and allowed for larger storage in a smaller space and faster interconnect for distributed data in a scale-out architecture. Finally, DBMS appliances are beginning to gain acceptance.

Q5. You also co-authored Gartner’s “Who’s Who in NoSQL Databases” report back in August. What is the current status of the NoSQL market in your opinion?

Nick Heudecker: There is a substantial amount of interest in NoSQL offerings, but also a great deal of confusion related to use cases and how vendor offerings are differentiated.
One question we get frequently is if NoSQL DBMSs are viable candidates to replace RDBMSs. To date, NoSQL deployments have been overwhelmingly supplemental to traditional relational DBMS deployments, not destructive.

Q6. How does the NoSQL market relate to the Operational Database Management Systems market?

Nick Heudecker: First, it’s difficult to define a NoSQL market. There are four distinct categories of NoSQL DBMS (document, key-value, table-style and graph), each with different capabilities and addressable use cases. That said, the various types of NoSQL DBMSs are included in the operational DBMS market based on capabilities around interactions and observations.

Q8. What do you see happening with Operational Database Management Systems, going forward?

Nick Heudecker: Going forward, we see the bifurcation between relational and NoSQL DBMS markets diminishing over time.


Nick Heudecker is a Research Director for Gartner Inc, covering information management topics and specializing in Big Data and NoSQL.
Prior to Gartner, Mr. Heudecker worked with several Bay Area startups and developed an enterprise software development consulting practice. He resides in Silicon Valley.


Gartner, “Magic Quadrant for Operational Database Management Systems,” by Donald Feinberg, Merv Adrian, and Nick Heudecker, October 21, 2013

Access the full Gartner Magic Quadrant report (via MarkLogic web site- registration required).

Access the full Gartner Magic Quadrant report (via Aerospike web site- registration required)

Related Posts

On Big Data and NoSQL. Interview with Renat Khasanshyn. October 7, 2013

On NoSQL. Interview with Rick Cattell. August 19, 2013

Follow on Twitter: @odbmsorg


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