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Ingres CTO fights back

The man chosen to shepherd Ingres through tough times is defending the viability of the open source database.

The head honcho of newly formed Ingres Corp. is defending the viability of his firm's open source database management system in the face critics who say the product is falling into obscurity.

The ink had yet to dry on the deal that saw CA spin off the newly open sourced database into its own firm, and critics were already talking.

Headlines read that the sell-off was being "met with skepticism." Open source database vendor MySQL reportedly claimed that the act of making Ingres open source, as CA had in November 2004, was a "gracious" signal to the industry that the database was being killed off.

Noel Yuhanna, a senior analyst at Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research Inc., believes the news was probably a signal that the fledgling database "didn't have much of a presence in the market."

"People had difficulty dealing with Ingres software; almost a fear, and that's why they open sourced it last year," he said.

But Ingres chief technology officer David Dargo said the critics are way off.

"The first thing to understand is that all the development and support is coming over to Ingres Corp.," Dargo said. "The people who have been developing [Ingres software] software for 15 to 20 years will continue to develop software this week, tomorrow and next year."

More on Ingres:

Open source Ingres out-hyped and underdeveloped into obscurity


Open source Ingres' salvation, says founder


Seeds of open source Ingres continue to grow

Back in time

Dargo said the mood is positive at Ingres, as he and his new management team work to bring Ingres back into public view.

The management team includes Terry Garnett as chairman and interim CEO; Emma McGrattan, senior vice president of engineering; Andy Allbritten, senior vice president of support and services; and Dev Mukherjee, chief marketing officer and senior vice president of business development. Dargo said these executives will lead Ingres with a focus on marketing, support and development to dismiss any downbeat perceptions about Ingres technology.

"If you go back and look, Ingres had been tremendously strong outside of North America, and Oracle was strong in North America," Dargo said. "There were a couple of technology decisions early on [including] debates as to which standard was going to win out. Oracle chose the technology that did become the standard and Ingres fell a little behind."

A case for openness

At the heart of Dargo's belief in Ingres' potential is the fact that his experiences have led him to conclude that the current service model is broken and flawed, and is in need of a fix.

It is a fix that Dargo believes an open source database with decades of closed standards experience can provide.

"Years ago, when I first started out, it was very common for companies to write their own database software. In the '70s a new business model came along where companies would pay a license fee to ISVs [independent software vendors] to create new database soft," he said.

"These fees, in turn, were then aggregated across a wide market that included research and development. But then, somewhere in the dot-com late 1990s, the market changed, and database products became feature rich, or "bloatware," Dargo said.

The core set of features that had needed to be established to satisfy users had been established at that point, but companies like Oracle continued to charge the fees. Now, however, Dargo said the fees were no longer going to fund the features customers needed, but instead went to ventures like acquisition instead.

"When the database market first started, a lot of choices were provided. Now what we see in that market is that the proprietary vendors have a monody on support. There's only one company that can provide support and that's Oracle, DB2, SQL Server, etc.," he said. "Companies are finding themselves in brutal tax collection methodology: Pay up or get cut off."

The open front

The encouraging landscape for open source software in general bodes well for open source database technology. This is something Dargo said would help Ingres catch on with enterprise companies that have experienced success with open source projects like the Apache Web server and the Linux operating system.

"The problem is that open source databases are fairly new products and don't have maturity. Ingres Corp. is a matured database; we are getting ready to aggressively hire another 100 employees. We have the ability to go out and bring a new business model to the way databases are sold and supported. We are not launching a brand new product at a new company -- we have the installed base.

"I am convinced that everyone associated with this management team believes that this is an opportunity to do something positive, not only from our own perspective but also in redefining how enterprise-class databases are sold and supported," he said.

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