Continuing on the database posts I’ve authored over the past while, anyone who does any sort of mid- to large-scale data analysis needs to download and trial Vertica Community Edition. It is a fantastic, leading product, and is incredibly powerful in roles for which it is suitable, which generally entails analysis and reporting tasks. The ability to use R or C++ to generate UDFs offers enormous flexibility and power.
The three-node, 1TB allowance for this free edition exceeds the scale of needs for many, many organizations. If you exceed those allowances it will cost you, but the pricing for most moderate data sizes doesn’t vary much from the costs of SQL Server.
Is it best for you? As with almost everything in this industry, it depends.
I recently built a system for a client that was based upon a heavily modified version of SQLite. That implementation was the perfect fit for their needs for a variety of reasons, including that they wanted an extremely lightweight engine that they can deploy at will (including to client sites), simply pushing a delta of a database file at intervals. In other implementations I have heavily used SQL Server and its built in analysis and data warehousing functionality. For others still, MySQL Cluster Edition was the path to implementation success.
Your mileage will vary, but you never know which tool to use unless you’re aware of all options, especially when they offer enormous levels of functionality for free.