The Most Popular Databases 2018

We’ve looked at the Most Popular Programming Languages for 2018 and Most Popular Development Platforms 2018 based on the Stack Overflow Annual Developer Survey 2018.  Now it's time to investigate the world of Databases -  from which are the most popular -  the most loved, dreaded and wanted - to how the database market is evolving.

Increasing demand for processing huge quantities of data has led to databases being more critical for companies than ever. The advent of AI, machine and deep learning, GDPR regulation and data governance have put data at the top of most companies priority list.

The typical DBA role has therefore started to evolve into that of a data professional and even data scientist especially as the volume of data requiring manipulation increases daily with the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT).  We are also starting to see the shift from centralised big data to new categories of database that can work with data increasingly coming from mobile and IoT devices.

Security for data especially in the cloud has become vital as DBAs are increasingly having to tackle cyber security issues as online storage grows and attacks on data occur more frequently.

It isn't all adding to the DBA workload however and improvements in DevOps and Containers are thankfully spreading the work load to other teams now especially where embedded databases in containerised microservices can provide better performance.

Are we hearing the death knell of the traditional database?

Not really - or at least not yet.  The chart below shows the most popular databases from the viewpoint of the professional developer and also what they actually wish they were using if they had the choice

It doesn’t look like SQL is going anywhere fast – and why would it? It’s super easy to use and can even be grasped by non-developers such as business analysts.  MySQL and SQL Server are still at the top of the chart so RDBMS databases are here to stay for a while yet and are still significantly more common than NoSQL databases such as MongoDB.

The main vendors are becoming increasingly expensive so it will be interesting to see if cheaper offerings in the cloud change the marketplace in the coming years.  NoSQL was touted as replacing RDBMS however and that hasn’t happened because it is great with particular applications but doesn’t always solve the big business issues

The database market remains ripe for opportunity however and many of us are waiting for the next big thing to happen which can work across the cloud whilst meeting the data challenges of the future


 Most Popular Database Platforms Love 💔 Dread Want
  2018 2017 %Change 2018 2017 2018 2017 2018 2017
MySQL 59% 44% 34% 49% 50% 51% 50% ★8% 9%
SQL Server 42% 34% 24% 52% 54% 48% 46% 4% 5%
PostgreSQL 33% 23% ^43% ❤62% 61% 38% 39% ★11% 12%
MongoDB 26% 19% ^37% 55% 55% 45% 45% ★19% 21%
SQLite 20% 22% -9% 48% 47% 52% 53% 3% 7%
Redis 19% 14% ^36% ❤65% 65% 36% 35% ★10% 11%
Elasticsearch 14%     ❤60%   40%   ★12%  
MariaDB 14%     53%   47%   3%  
Oracle 11% 14% -21% 37% 37% 💔63% 63% 2% 4%
Microsoft Azure 8%     57%   43%   7%  
Memcached 6%     42%   💔58%   3%  

Why is MySQL still at the top?

It's the database that is used most by web developers and it's free for non commercial users.  It is great for companies that are on a budget, want lots of functionality, a good range of interfaces and need something reliable yet flexibile enough to work with other databases.

SQL Server

This database management engine is fast and stable, available on both Linux and Windows platforms and can work on cloud based servers and local servers simultaneously.  It's owned by Microsoft and is ideal for companies that work with a range of Microsoft products as it works well with many of them.  Its market share is increasing fast because Microsoft is pushing SQL Server with their Windows Servers and have also included AI over Azure which may increase their share even further for those working with AI.

SQL Server also has some great features including visualisations on mobiles and the ability to change and track performance levels which can potentially save time and money

Databases to watch



PostgresSQL has increased in popularity by 62% over the past year and is a firm favourite for web databases and companies with small budgets who want to choose their own interface and use JSON. 

It is free and has great features including easy data portability, management of structured and unstructured data, multiple interfaces and can be used on most major platforms and environments.  It is easily scalable and can deal with terabytes of data whilst providing a high level of performance and therefore it is likely that its popularity will increase further over the next few years


Redis is an open source NoSQL data structure server/key value store that is relatively new in the database world having been first released in 2009 but is quickly gaining market share now.  It has increased 36% in popularity over the last year and is loved by its users according to Stack Overflow.

It is typically used for session (cache) management and messaging queues as it gives a structured way to store data in memory that is much faster than its competitors.  It is especially useful for microservice architectures with scalable cloud hosting, data that doesn’t need long term persistence and the ability to communicate across platform, cross server or across application


MongoDB is a free database that is more of a document store rather than an RDBMS, although it works well where data isn’t relational and some of its competitors struggle.

It is fast and easy to use, supports JSON and NoSQL documents and the schema can be written without downtime.  It is designed to be highly versatile due to its large selection of drivers that connect to any programming language.  It can also be used for applications that use structured and unstructured data.  Its users seem to be split between loving or hating it – maybe it’s the Marmite of the database world

Added 5-Apr-2018