By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2004-06-01 Print this article Print

-of-Life Strategy"> Indeed, open-sourcing is a good end-of-life strategy for databases that arent competing in the top tier of the RDBMS market. It can revive interest in a stagnant database product, and as CAs Maurice Donegan noted, it can ensure that you get a whole lot more eyeballs looking at improving your code—certainly not a bad move for code thats extremely old and of what might be dubious provenance. What was it that Larry Ellison called CA? The jackal of the IT world? I dont know if thats fair with regards to Ingres code quality—I guess well find out soon, wont we?—but CA certainly does have a reputation of acquiring technology and living off the maintenance revenues without much enhancement of the original products.
Which databases might be good candidates for open-sourcing? Think of IBMs Informix, which accounted for only 1.9 percent of the 2003 market for RDBMS software, according to Gartners recently released market numbers. Sybases ASE is another one—it didnt even show up on Gartners list of top databases.
Will either go the open-source route? According to an IBM spokeswoman, Informix has a very loyal customer base and a strong roadmap to boot, with more IBM people on development today than Informix ever had. Ill be chatting with IBM and others about the future of Informix and hopefully with Sybase about ASE as well, so check back in on the Database Center in coming weeks to find out more.Getting back to MySQLs fate, it might not be all that dire. After all, Ingres has been out some 20 years, and that means it must have had some changes and enhancements. In addition, as Yuhanna noted, somebody who wrote the code 20 years ago likely had different objectives as well as different, likely obsolete, styles of programming. As time progresses, and as Ingres becomes available to the open-source community, the code quality will undoubtedly improve. MySQL, meanwhile, may be worried, but its certainly putting the best face on the situation. Zack Urlocker, vice president of marketing at MySQL, was quick to point out to me the venerable nature of Ingres code. "Its a good database, but its not state of the art," he said. Next page: Ingres has grown long in the tooth.

Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for eWEEK.com and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on eWEEK.com, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

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