By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2006-04-07 Print this article Print

Ingres doesnt see MySQL as a competitor, and rightly so. Even though it gets more media buzz as an open-source player, Ingres offers a product with a longer history of enterprise deployment, so its definitely set up as a more serious alternative to Oracle technology. They may both be open source, but thats about all the basis for comparison there is between MySQL and Ingres.
That pertains particularly given that theres no longer any uncertainty around MySQLs future vis-à-vis storage engines—at least, there shouldnt be, given that MySQL is going to roll out its own storage engine later this month at its user conference and has signed a multi-year contract with Oracle to keep using the Innodb storage engine, with the former license terms unchanged.
In a nutshell, I dont think Ingres has to scare Oracle or MySQL into its fold, and I dont think it has much grounds to do so for either database. What it does have is some good ideas for new database markets. For one, Dargo, like all of Ingres top brass, is pitching Ingres as the Linux of open-source databases: Nobody took it seriously years ago, but look at Linux now. The other market Ingres is aiming itself at is even more lucrative, Dargo says. It gets into the integration of maintenance. Whereas companies like Microsoft and Oracle are selling fairly complete stacks, the benefits arent getting to the customer, Dargo says. "Customers still have to apply fixes to components," he told me. "Thats incredibly time-consuming for enterprises to go through, and theyre [looking] for simplified maintenance." Because Ingres is playing in the open-source space, it can go out and integrate with other pieces of the stack, such as Linux, to make its own stack. So whereas Microsoft is talking about extending the operating system to include the database, Ingres is talking about extending the database to include the operating system. "I strip Linux to the basic functionality I need, and I can now run the Ingres database on bare metal," he said. "Whats more interesting, virtualization comes around, and what Im delivering is a single entity called Ingres database that includes the operating system, and the customer doesnt have to apply maintenance to a separate operating system." With virtualization and other technologies that affect implementation, its interesting to any company that has to rely on Microsoft or Oracle technology for a vendors product to be successful. For an e-mail server competing against Microsoft Exchange, for example, Ingres could come out with an appliance that extends the database to include an e-mail server. Thus, the appliance vendor can go to customers and sell an integrated software appliance thats both e-mail server and database, managed and maintained as a single piece. The potential audience is any software vendor that has a solution that runs on Microsoft or Oracle. This isnt pie in the sky. Dargo told me there are both customers and partners interested in this. A lab prototype is up and running in the lab, although Dargo didnt give me specifics (the e-mail appliance is just a for-instance). Customer prototypes are on track for this summer, and by the end of year Ingres is planning to have a production Ingres software appliance. Dargo says that by next year well start seeing partners with software appliances. I dont think Ingres "10g is too complicated and scary for a simple caveman like me" approach is going to get the company much business, but this I could see being innovative in a way that, according to Dargos thinking, closed-source vendors like Oracle just dont have the luxury to delve into. By the way, Dargos blogging now, so go check out his thinking about the imminent demise of the closed-source business model ("The Broken Covenant of Software Licenses") and let me know what you think. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest database news, reviews and analysis.

Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for 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, 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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