Operational Database Management Systems: Top Capabilities When Planning for the Future

Myles Brown | Monday, June 1, 2020

Operational Database Management Systems: Top Capabilities When Planning for the Future

Historically speaking, choosing a database has long been a relatively straightforward process, but today’s cloud-first market has changed the conversation. Operational database management systems (OPDBMS) offer relational and non-relational database features along with cloud scalability and default analytics capabilities that can help drive modernization efforts.

Technology companies are already embracing this shift. Companies defined as having over 10,000 employees and several billion dollars of annual revenue are building roadmaps that are “all in” on public cloud infrastructure, with three- to five-year adoption rates. Overall, IT market growth — currently at its highest level ever — is now driven by cloud spending. By 2023, 75 percent of all databases will be on a cloud platform, which will further change the vendor landscape[1]. By understanding the key players in the OPDBMS market, you can better select a database solution that will meet your current needs while maximizing the value of the cloud-driven future.

Gartner Magic Quadrant for OPDBMS: Features and Leaders

The OPDBMS concept takes databases beyond table structures, queries and controlled access. By Gartner’s definition, OPDBMS solutions may also support multiple delivery models, including stand-alone instances, public or private cloud deployments, containerized instances, certified configurations and database appliances. The OPDBMS market is also evolving to where analytics capabilities are becoming a requirement, blurring vendors’ traditional separation of data structures and data management solutions for analytics.

The 2019 Gartner OPDBMS Magic Quadrant leader list includes some names that have long been considered synonymous with DBMS solutions, such as Oracle and SAP. However, cloud leaders, including Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, IBM and Google, along with several other, niche, global and up-and-coming competitors top the list by offering advanced, innovative capabilities and best-of-breed strategies. Even though established and well-known vendors lead this prestigious list, OPDBMS solutions are an emerging and evolving technology. It is important to evaluate each vendors’ offerings, strengths, weaknesses and available training options so you can set your company up for success.

A Look at Capabilities Among the Leaders

In the 2019 Gartner Magic Quadrant for OPDBMS report, each identified leader demonstrates strengths and weaknesses in the market. For each vendor, Gartner evaluates DBMS products together as a single entity. Here are some highlights for six of the top solutions.


Arguably one of the most recognized names in database systems, Oracle maintains its strong presence in the OPDBMS Magic Quadrant with a complete set of DBMS products for operational systems.

Strengths: Oracle continues to lead DBMS innovation with database-platform-as-a-service (dbPaaS) offerings driven by machine learning. With some of the highest scores in all categories for functionality and high-speed performance, Oracle sets the bar for product satisfaction both on premises and in the cloud.

Cautions: While Oracle competes in the dbPaaS space, its primary focus still seems to be on Oracle DBMS. Oracle’s cloud pricing and licensing structures are considerably more complex compared to competitors, and it scored the lowest among vendors for service and support in the cloud.


SAP HANA and S/4HANA seamlessly bring together best-of-breed cloud practices, high-speed processing and corporate-focused data management strategies, earning them a top spot among leaders in the OPDBMS Magic Quadrant.

Strengths: The stable, well-designed SAP HANA supports corporate data interchange for both analytics and transactional systems. Customers also noted how the new SAP HANA helps simplify data management, offering significant modernization value over the standard “lift and shift” experienced during cloud migrations.

Cautions: SAP is perceived as expensive in terms of the value of ownership. However, much of SAP’s value lies in performance, simplification and flexibility, which are not easily quantified. SAP is also considered late to the cloud, though the solution has quickly moved into a multi-cloud market.

Amazon Web Services (AWS)

This mature cloud services provider offers a wide variety of OPDBMS solutions, including traditional relational and nonrelational databases available on elastic cloud storage, as well as niche offerings, such as big data processing solutions, ledger databases, graphing DBMS solutions and more.

Strengths: Gartner recognizes AWS for its strong market momentum, innovation, customer loyalty and support.

Cautions: When choosing AWS for OPDBMS solutions, be careful of missing functionality, limited on-premises and multi-cloud capabilities and difficulty scaling at the enterprise level without substantial levels of support. 


As another trusted name in enterprise computing, Microsoft tops the list with its diverse array of OPDBMS capabilities. Its massively scalable relational and nonrelational database solutions can be delivered on premises, in the cloud or as appliances.

Strengths: Microsoft Azure is leading in cloud growth among competitors, with 134 percent revenue growth and over 40 percent of its surveyed customers using more than one of its DBMS offerings. Customers also praise Microsoft on ease of programming, product support and documentation.

Cautions: Certain customers noted challenges that have arisen from a lack of Azure product maturity, including system analysis burdens, differing authentication methods between connected technologies and downtime during scaling.


A long-standing powerhouse in the database market, IBM offers a modernized Db2 suite that includes on-premise, cloud and appliance solutions. IBM also provides open-source solution support, intelligent analytics and big data processing, along with multi-cloud connectivity with IBM Cloud, Microsoft Azure, AWS and Google Cloud.

Strengths: As one of the most feature-rich and varied OPDBMS offerings, IBM offers innovative open-source and machine learning–driven capabilities; hybrid and multi-cloud support; and best-in-class service, support and upgrade options.

Cautions: Even with IBM’s focus on simplifying its offerings and delivering more value for its price, its revenue fell for the fifth consecutive year in 2018. IBM’s cloud growth — while strong — lags competitors, as does its expansion into new markets.


Along with multiple dbPaaS offerings in the cloud, Google offers an open-platform approach and managed services for Confluent, DataStax, Elastic, InfluxData, MongoDB, Neo4j and Redis Labs, which could have greater appeal for organizations with a multi-cloud strategy.

Strengths: Google has a strong enterprise customer focus, with high scores in ease of contract negotiation, value for money, outage rates and ease of implementation. Additionally, Google has focused on improving customer support and now ranks second highest among Magic Quadrant vendors, which is a marked improvement over previous years.

Cautions: Depending on which services you use, you may experience some feature gaps, including a lack of automatic backup, audit capabilities, query optimization or pricing controls. Customers scored some other areas low, too, including security database activity monitoring as well as satisfaction with professional services.

Maximize Your ROI with Certified Training

Moving to an OPDBMS requires foundational knowledge that is not always apparent through the course of evaluation and experimentation. Cloud-native database systems come with features and capabilities that were, until recently, unheard of in a DBMS system. Starting your teams off with core knowledge can go a long way toward maximizing the value of your investment.

ExitCertified offers vendor-certified training at all levels for leading OPDBMS solutions, including the six leading vendors covered above, among others. Whether your team takes training in person, online or through our Individual Multimedia Video Presence (iMVP®) remote classroom platform, you’ll benefit from instructors who understand how these solutions integrate in the real world, and your teams will come out of ExitCertified training with practical knowledge, ready to make your strategy a reality.

The technology world moves fast, and your data management strategy is critical to your success. The right training can go a long way in ensuring you are making the most of your OPDBMS solution’s capabilities. Before starting your next cloud migration or development project, see how ExitCertified can help set your team up for success.

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