In a nod to developers and database administrators, Ingres has enhanced its database to simplify application development and improve availability and system recovery.
The new version of the open-source database, Ingres Database 9.2, includes a number of features meant to help the database compete against both open-source rival MySQL and proprietary databases such as Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server. For starters, Ingres is seeking to simplify the development of Web-based Java applications by adding support for scrollable cursors in its JDBC (Java Database Connectivity).
"We've added some new string functions to simplify application development with Java, and we have also done performance improvements with the driver itself so that they get better overall performance with Ingres and Java," said Christine Normile, product manager for Ingres Database 9.2.
In the same vein, the company has expanded Unicode features and support for multiple languages. For Ingres DBAs, there are a number of enhancements to look forward to in this release, starting with improved time for system recovery. In Ingres Database 9.2, the company sought to improve response time by adding roll-forward restart and logging for rollback, roll forward, backup, and database verification information.
"So now, customers, if you do happen to have an issue with your database, you can recover from a single point of time," said Deb Woods, Ingres vice president of product management. "We've done quite a bit of work to help expedite that amount of time it does take to recover the system."
Other enhancements include improved exception handling and error messaging.
In prior releases, Woods explained, there were several places in the code where user interrupt, session removal or query abort in the management and administration tools would take a long time to take effect.
"For Ingres 9.2 we analyzed the session interrupt and exception code in each server facility to determine where improvements could be made in the detection and action upon interrupt requests," Woods said. "When an interrupt or other exception had occurred in prior versions, the DBMS in some cases did not handle the exception well ... leaving resources allocated, or in extreme cases [it] had the potential to bring down the DBMS server."
Error messages were changed to make it easier to determine their source, Woods continued. In the past, she said, there were several places in the code where the same error message could be generated and returned to the user, making it difficult to determine the nature of the problem.
"In Ingres 9.2 we analyzed the error and tracing messages in each server facility to determine where improvements could be made in clarifying the messages, adding additional information, and we also added the source file and line number for where the error was generated to make troubleshooting and debugging easier," she said.
While the improved functionality could be a boon for customers, Ingres still faces some hurdles in its path. Its community still lacks visibility next to other relational databases on the market, and the company will likely be challenged by the upcoming release of MySQL 6.0, Forrester Research analyst Noel Yuhanna said.
There will be no shortage of opportunity for Ingres to gain ground if projections about the market for open-source databases prove true. According to predictions by Forrester, the market will see 24 percent growth in 2009.
"We find that customers that use Ingres definitely like Ingres at lot, they don't want to move because it's easy to use ... but we have found that many developers and DBAs don't know much about Ingres and what it does and how it can help them in database management," Yuhanna said. "Ingres needs to attract more developers, DBAs and architects and encourage the use of Ingres and even allow for more source code contributions from the community."