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CA executive steers Ingres on open source waters

When former Oracle and PeopleSoft/JD Edwards executive Tony Gaughan joined Computer Associates International Inc. earlier this year to head its product development team, Gaughan signed on to oversee the open sourcing of its Ingres DBMS.

Ingres, which was created nearly three decades ago, was acquired by CA in the early 1990s. The DBMS had been floundering with fewer then 15,000 customers worldwide, but it gained attention when its source code was released to the open source community this summer.

To keep the surge of interest going CA is launching an aggressive marketing campaign and trying to build an online community of users. Ingres r3 was made generally available on Linux and Windows, earlier this month and Gaughan says CA will eventually announce new customer deployments of the product.

Gaughan, who serves as senior vice president of product development at CA spoke with at The Ingres Conference in Kansas City, Mo.

Who is CA targeting with Ingres r3?
If you look at the big picture there are probably three key markets for us that align nicely. There is always open source, where MySQL has established a good user base so there is an opportunity for us to play in that market. Then there is the SMB market where there is more of a drive to take cost out of the overall infrastructure and leverage capabilities in a much more economical way and that is typically where SQL Server has played. We think we'll be competing a lot with SQL Server. The other area where we see an advantage is our ability to scale up to handle large type of applications and that's clearly another area where we align.

I think there are perceptions out there that open source is this free for all where people can do what they want and in reality that's not the case.
MySQL AB has gained most of the attention in the open source community. Why do you see MySQL as a friend rather then a foe?
They're also evangelizing this open source approach. They're educating people on open source and what it means. They're developing more of a professional open source attitude. MySQL is becoming much more of a professional organization obviously not to the same scale as we are, but in terms of selling the concepts. Their application doesn't support mission critical processes. The reason we don't see them as a competitor at this point is they are probably somewhere between three to five years behind us in terms of capabilities. They can't even run within the TPC benchmark at this point because they can't satisfy all the criteria. They started with pretty much nothing and we're they've gotten is amazing in the time period. MySQL has pointed to some large customers that have adopted its DBMS, but I haven't seen that with CA. Why not?
They have pointed to a lot of large customers, but if you look at what those customers are using MySQL for, it's predominantly Web page serving or some read-over type application where you are providing information in a read access perspective. I doubt they could really highlight any transactional type of deployments they have at this point. In fairness to Ingres we've only been generally available for a week. Watch for some announcements. We are seeing the level of interest to suggest that we've done the right thing and the movement to open source has been perceived very favorably. It will take a while for people to get to a level to where they are ready to talk about their experiences. There has been a perception that once CA purchases a product, they run it into the ground. Has that perception been difficult to overcome with Ingres?
Personally my knowledge of CA when I joined the company was pretty much along the lines of what you outlined. It was a company that acquired technology and then would set up a good maintenance organization and keep the maintenance revenue stream. The truth with CA now is very different. It is actually a company very focused on building product. The areas where we are building product are much more highly focused then sometimes they have been before. Now there is much more of a structure to how we are moving forward as an organization. We have an opportunity with Ingres and our management is very focused on leveraging the position we're in.
We have an opportunity with Ingres and our management is very focused on leveraging the position we're in.
What are the key differences between the MySQL and Ingres open source licenses? Is Ingres truly open source?
I don't think Ingres can be more open sourced then it is. The license was very much constructed to allow people to do anything they want with Ingres. There are no restrictions whatsoever. The CA Trusted Open Source license is very much geared towards anyone being able to take the product in its entirety, embed it, change it, modify it and do what ever they want – even sell it and we're happy to support that. There are no restrictions and no royalty fees paid back to CA. What we've also put into the license is the ability for us to provide support for Ingres. That support gives you a level of indemnification so you are insured that you are not sued for intellectual property rights infringement and secondly it gives you the ability to feel comfortable that there is ongoing support for the product. And MySQL?
If you look at MySQL's license it is commonly known as a duel license. It is essentially released as GPL, which is a true open source license, but GPL restricts you from embedding MySQL technology into your product. Your product also has to be open sourced. The way MySQL has gotten around that is by giving out a commercial license, which is the same as any other commercial license. You would have to pay a license fee to MySQL. So it's not truly open sourced. You never pay a license for Ingres r3. Was it an easy decision to open source Ingres?
We looked at every perspective of whether it made sense to go open source, from the revenue that we currently have to the costs that would be absorbed to go open source and developing and maintaining the products. We weighed the potential market share and then the support revenue share that we can get over time. We looked at those factors and we made a judgment call. We though this was an effective time to go open source. The company had actually discussed it before but the timing wasn't right for many reasons and then again we come back and say that's why MySQL is our friend because they actually validated that there is a market. How do you address the issue of going open source with the current customer base?
Customers that are using 2x release of Ingres are not impacted by this at all. I think our greatest concern was making sure people understood what open source is all about. I think there are perceptions out there that open source is this free for all where people can do what they want and in reality that's not the case. The concerns we've had have been around security issues such as how do you guard against a virus getting into a release. They are reasonable concerns to have, but I think when they understand the process and our product release cycle, Ingres customers will be assured of continued security and stability in the product.
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What does the new features road map look like? How often will we see new features rolled out for Ingres?
We have started to put together a roadmap in terms of the higher level features and functions that we're looking to address. I think one thing that we've stalled on going through is whether we should have themed releases, such as a themed release around data warehousing where we actually develop a lot of the in hands capabilities that we want to support around data warehousing or do we want to put in a list of things we're working on and drop them when we're ready to drop them. We're definitely going to be doing much more intermittent releases, so rather than having a 9 month or a 12 month long development cycle I think we're starting to drop the capabilities into the code line sooner so people can get much more used to it. Typically have a stable product and then the next release product where new features and products released with that can get a perception of what's going into the product and provide feedback. So I think you'll see us put stuff out there much more rapidly then we have been in the past. CA issued a Million Dollar Challenge to the open source developers who develop the best migration tools for Ingres. Is CA getting a big response from its Million Dollar Challenge?
It is difficult to tell completely. There are definitely people out there working on it. We're not seeing anybody coming forward at this point saying there's no solution. We haven't had any submissions yet, but its obvious that people don't want to give other people a jump start on how to solve the problem. So I think that people who are going to participate are being slightly guarded at this point in making available what their proposed solution is. We won't know until Feb. 1 what the real entrants will look like. But from the level of activity we're seeing it's been more than a few. Who is going to do the judging?
From the Feb 1, until we announce there will be a judging process looking and evaluating each of the products. The judges are being made up of three people from the open source community, so people who are established in the open source community and two people from CA.

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