Is the NoSQL database trend a threat to Oracle (ORCL)? This is a big week for the company, which announced somewhat disappointing Q4 new software licenses yesterday. While cloud computing and hardware sales are Oracle's big challenges, you can't overlook the open source database wars as well. Indeed, Oracle and MySQL faces challenges from smaller NoSQL vendors.

That, at least, is the message from DataStax, which delivers a distribution of Apache Cassandra, a distributed database platform designed for highly scalable Big Data applications. Founded in 2010, DataStax is one of a growing number of companies offering NoSQL databases, a broad family of database software that provides an alternative to traditional solutions such as MySQL.

Oracle offers its own NoSQL implementation, but its MySQL solution has long been the marquee of its open source database offerings—and a major part of Oracle's bread and butter. Seeing a wide gap between Oracle's commitment to MySQL and its NoSQL support, DataStax is working to convince the channel that non-Oracle NoSQL solutions are the way of the future.

And it has some good data to back up that pitch, pointing to decisions by "dozens of customers," among them Netflix, Ooyala and Openwave Messaging, to drop Oracle in favor of the DataStax NoSQL platform. The switches, DataStax representatives said in an email, stem from a "search for greater levels of scalability, disaster avoidance and cost savings."

To be sure, Oracle's NoSQL story is far from over. If the company is lagging in NoSQL performance as much as the information from DataStax suggests, it still has time to salvage the situation. And even if MySQL is in a slow decline, it's so well-established that Oracle can count on it continuing to generate revenue for a long time to come.

But what is virtually certain is that, in the long term, NoSQL will become a vital part of the picture. According to Forrester, the NoSQL market, which totals about $200 million today, will explode to $1 billion by 2017. That's a big change, and companies such as Oracle will need to adapt—no matter what the Q4 earnings turn out to be.