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Oracle, IBM losing ground to local databases in China, says IDC

One market down on China's march toward tech self-sufficiency, a bajillion more to go.

Beijing's efforts to grow local alternatives to the wares of the world's mightiest tech companies have made progress in the relational database market, according to research by analyst firm International Data Corp (IDC).

Under what IDC referred to as "favorable policies," the relational database market share of local Chinese manufacturers is rapidly catching up with the likes of Oracle and IBM. Local players including Dameng Database, Renmin University Golden Warehouse, and Huawei are scooping up customers.

In the public cloud, operators' own databases dominate. Alibaba Cloud took the lion's share of the market in the second half of 2021, followed by Tencent, AWS and Huawei. For on-prem deployment, Huawei is the winner with nearly a quarter of the market, followed by Oracle.

The Chinese relational database software market, which grew 34.9 percent year-on-year to nearly $1.6 billion in the second half of 2021, is expected to continue growing to nearly 9.6 billion by 2026, reflecting a 28.1 percent five-year CAGR.

Within this market in the second half of 2021, public cloud relational databases accounted for $870 million revenue, a year-on-year growth of 48.7 percent, while on-prem grew less than half that at 21.1 percent to $710 million.

IDC credits new technologies, like cloud computing and big data, as well as the deepening of enterprise digital transformation for creating more complex data management requirements. These in turn require databases tuned to different roles. That demand creates opportunities for more players and diverse products.

Wang Nan, China enterprise software market analyst at IDC, said those emerging database markets are where local manufacturers are gaining the most ground – some even leading the market – as they provide better price points or other advantages.

According to Wang, policy is another factor driving adoption of local databases. "At the macro level, the policy is greatly beneficial to local manufacturers, and the market opportunities of local manufacturers will be higher than that of international manufacturers. Under the dual factors of database technology development and macro policy-driven, the past pattern of China's relational database market is being broken, and changes are coming," said Wan.

IDC's data will please Beijing. In October 2020, China set a goal to be self sufficient in tech by 2035. A national strategic plan and "Made in China 2025" slogan seek to increase the Chinese-domestic content of core materials to 40 percent by 2020 and 70 percent by 2025.

Progress on such hardware has been slow, with IC insights predicting China will only produce one in five of the chips it uses in 2026.

But China has recently ramped up its efforts to create a local desktop. In May, authorities reportedly directed government agencies and state-run companies to chuck all foreign-made personal computers. The story was accompanied by an immediate boost for Chinese company Lenovo – which, according to Canalys, already claimed 40 percent Chinese market share.

China has also attempted several times to end its reliance on Western software and operating systems, notably Microsoft Windows. Last week that effort saw a new alliance form to develop a desktop OS called OpenKylin that it's hoped will offer a better alternative, and faster development, than today's Linux-based Kylin OS.

IDC's data suggests that the unglamorous but utterly essential RDBMS market may represent a niche in which Beijing has already made good progress towards its self-sufficiency goals. And maybe also a template the country can use to do the same in other fields. ®

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