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Seeds of open source Ingres continue to grow

It's been about nine months since Computer Associates' Ingres database set sail on open source waters, and so far the journey's been relatively smooth. So, what's next? One CA honcho says it's time for Ingres to assume more of a mission-critical role in the enterprise.

My perception from [LinuxWorld] personally is that a lot of people are dabbling with [Ingres] at the moment and testing to see if [it] is scalable and performs.
Tony Gaughan
senior vice president of developmentComputer Associates

It's been about nine months since Computer Associates' Ingres database set sail on open source waters and -- save for some criticism generated with CA's introduction of yet another open source license -- the waters have been relatively smooth. But how will open source Ingres fair as companies start relying on it more for mission critical applications? got a hold of Tony Gaughan, CA's senior vice president of development, to find out. In this interview, Gaughan discusses where Ingres and open source as a whole are heading; the rampant excitement over open source at the recent LinuxWorld Boston Conference & Expo; and why he believes that open source database technologies will one day rival and replace even the most popular proprietary alternatives.

How have things progressed for open source Ingres since its release last year? And what are CA's plans for Ingres going forward?

Tony Gaughan: A lot has happened since we initially open sourced [Ingres] -- more in terms of expanding platforms. Over the past three months, the main target was to provide additional support for key Linux platforms as well as Windows. As for future development, we are really in sort of a planning mode as far as scheduled releases; planning for better support for J2EE [Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition], PHP and overall development in those areas. We're really focusing on cementing the core of what we have and then expanding on platform support. Another key [feature] we are planning on releasing at this point is cluster support on Linux.

There was a great deal of talk about open source at the recent LinuxWorld Boston conference. How was Ingres received there?

Gaughan: The attitude we saw LinuxWorld was very exciting in that there was a real buzz around Ingres. What we did at LinuxWorld was give away copies of Ingres. We know it's already free to begin with, but we also offered a month of support, and we found Ingres generated an extreme amount of interest. My perception from [LinuxWorld] personally is that a lot of people are dabbling with [Ingres] at the moment and testing to see if [it] is scalable and performs.

We then followed up with JBoss World, and essentially there we were again seeing tremendous demand around Ingres. Really what we're seeing is that this is a start for us to begin to get real feedback from these new users, as well as from the earliest adopters of product.

Additionally, we will be working with one partner to publish some performance benchmarks fairly soon, and within the next few months at most, we hope to show benchmarks comparable to results that Oracle produces.


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Is open source ready for the enterprise?

Gaughan: The likes of open source technologies in Linux and JBoss are tremendously adaptable, [and will allow] them to increase into other areas fairly soon, and then perhaps more standardized apps. The OpenOffice suite is another great solution where we see the commoditization process, and gradually we will see that process spill out more and more into core technologies. With Ingres and databases, we are seeing a marketplace that couldn't be approached with open source database performance. MySQL, for example, did not have enterprise capabilities. But what we will see is more rich applications [both] in enterprise scale and mission [criticality] starting to be deployed on open source technology. This is not the case at this point, but we'll soon see gradual adoption of big applications in the open source database world.

How much weight should users give the critical news out there concerning the Ingres Trusted License?

Gaughan: There is plenty of criticism of the number of licenses, and there is plethora of open source licenses. I think a fair comment would be that there are too many licenses. One thing we did when we introduced Ingres was … not go [to the General Public License] because it adds complexity. We wanted something very friendly for users within what they were already using. One thing we added was the ability to add into our product and retain your own intellectual property. We really wanted to keep it nice and clean and simple and this protects us from indemnification. When something comes into Ingres, you know whether it comes from your own company or externally from the community.

What else does the future hold for Ingres?

Gaughan: One of key things for us when we initially released Ingres was to build the community first. The main goal was get community into place, and I think we are starting to see that form quite nicely. We did not expect it to form overnight; it was a sort of longer term deliverable. We are seeing that community come along very nicely and there are a lot of people contributing bug fixes, areas of enhancements and so on. It has been well established; the next objective for us is to really get major deployments. We are starting to see major deployment where Ingres will be a full-scale replacement for commercial offerings. We are fairly happy with the progress it has made in past nine months. Additionally, the one thing we noticed the most at LinuxWorld was the amount of activity around Ingres was extreme. It's going to be a very exciting time for Ingres in the next few months.

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