Ingres Database Pushed Out Of CA Nest

Computer Associates, now formally called CA, said in early November it was spinning off the venerable Ingres database and brand to Garnett and Helfrich Capital, a private equity firm.

The new Redwood City, Calif.-based company, dubbed Ingres Corp., will be dedicated to the open-source Ingres. It will be led by interim Chairman and CEO Terry Garnett, managing director of Garnett and Helfrich. Newly appointed Senior Vice President Dave Dargo had been with Oracle and then with the Olliance Group.

CA had already put Ingres R3 into the open-source realm via CA&'s Trusted Open Source License as of August 2004. In that realm, it battles rivals such as MySQL at the low end and PostgreSQL higher up the food chain.

“Ingres does have an installed base. Last year CA put it into open source, so there is a community there,” said Judith Hurwitz, president of Hurwitz and Associates, a Waltham, Mass.-based research and consulting firm. “It&'s one thing when you have a technology owned by a vendor that has lots of products. But if you spin it out and put a management team that is dedicated to facing vendors like Oracle, that&'s a whole other thing. They see an opportunity for people seeking full-function, well-designed databases.”

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Having a company dedicated to Ingres specifically “should bring focus to the product,” agreed Ronald Nickolett, principal of Comprehensive Solutions, a Brookfield, Wis.-based database specialist. “CA has done a lot to bring the product forward, but they&'re not focused. They have so many products.”

Much of the early work for Ingres was done at the University of California, Berkeley, by database pioneer Michael Stonebraker. But observers say the Ingres name has lost its luster. Some refer to it as “the forgotten database” which lost ground to commercial databases from Oracle, IBM and Microsoft. More recently it has faced intense competition from open-source databases such as MySQL and PostgreSQL.

For example, MySQL, Cupertino, Calif., claimed 5 million downloads of MySQL 5.0 within three weeks of its release on Oct. 24.

Even Nickolett, an Ingres partisan, admits that interest in the Ingres database is slowing in the United States but notes that it remains steady in Europe and Asia.

Others say Ingres has lost too much ground to competitive commercial and open-source rivals to recover.

Anthony Awtrey, a database expert and vice president at Ideal Technology, Orlando, Fla., said he has seen no indication that his customers are interested in Ingres and does most of his work with PostgreSQL.

Robby Hill, owner of Planet Argon, an open-source database specialist in Portland, Ore., said he has never been asked about Ingres. “Most of our development surrounds PostgreSQL and assisting companies that migrate their databases from Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle and MySQL,” he said.