CA Pitches Ingres DB with $1 Million Tools Contest

The challenge to build migration tools is the company's attempt to steer users away from its rivals and onto its recently open-sourced database.

Computer Associates will announce Wednesday at LinuxWorld what its dubbed its $1 million challenge, has learned from industry sources. The goal: to get open-source developers to develop tools to easily migrate users off of all of the major relational databases and onto CAs recently open-sourced relational database, Ingres.

Mark Barrenechea, executive vice president of product development at Islandia, N.Y.-based Computer Associates International Inc., confirmed that it will give prize rewards for five projects. Those five projects are migration tool kits from IBM DB2 Universal Database, Microsoft Corp. SQL Server, Sybase Inc., Oracle Corp. or Informix databases.

/zimages/4/28571.gifRead more here about the open-sourcing of Ingres.

The rewards, totaling $1 million, will be paid out on a sliding scale based on completeness and quality. The contest will run through February 2005. Winners will be announced at the CAWorld conference. Rules of the contest will be released at the same time that CA releases the code for Ingres, which is scheduled for Wednesday.

Barrenechea said the rewards were conceived as a reward to the innovation common in the open-source community. "One thing that strikes me is there are near 1 million contributors to open source, all over the world," he said, speaking from the LinuxWorld show floor in San Francisco. "Many of these contributors do it for their passion, some to create a name for themselves. Wed like to reward some of the best for these migration tools."

CA also wants to bring that innovation to bear on its newly released database, of course. "We believe very much in open standards, and we think the next wave of open innovation will be above the operating system," he said.

"That will need a technology stack and a database, and we think one of the potential barriers of that are good migration tools from these non-open-source databases to open-source databases. We thought wed encourage that innovation" with the contest, he said.

This marks the first time that an open-source database has issued a direct challenge to the commercial database market. MySQL AB, maker of the most popular open-source database to date, MySQL, historically has demurred when it comes to competing directly with the likes of Oracle, instead preferring to call itself a commodity database that can serve to do the menial tasks for which expensive, fully featured databases would be overkill.

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read about how CAs Ingres move is affecting MySQL.

Analysts called CAs move "bold," saying its a great way to buy yourself a community around your open-source project.

"Its an interesting way to start building some community around the open-sourcing of Ingres," said an industry source who requested anonymity. "I think this is something no one else has tried: Lets buy a community. Youll [certainly] get that network effect: lots of developers building lots of applications that will draw a lot of users."

Ingres suffers from a lack of recognition that $1 million is sure to help, others said.

"Problem is, Ingres has been a low-profile database," said Noel Yuhanna, an analyst at Forrester Research, in Costa Mesa, Calif. "This is [CAs attempt] to create that awareness that its there. That its worth taking a look at for serious development."

Next Page: Competing with big rivals.