From that standpoint, it is much closer to competing with the big commercial databases than is MySQL, which lacks stored procedures and triggers, for example.
And, on one hand, what enterprises have liked about MySQL is that theres a company standing behind the open-source database. But with CA standing behind the Ingres open-source database, those same enterprises will have a much larger company to rely on.
Stephen OGrady, an analyst with RedMonk, in Bath, Maine, said the cash reward is a "nice model," but he doesnt think it will unseat traditional software development. "Even cash prizes dont work if developers dont think the platform is worth it," he said.
Still, the move has at least one precedent. Six Apart Ltd., the company behind the Movable Type Weblog publishing platform, in May announced a contest for developers to showcase and sell Movable Type plug-ins while competing for $20,000 in prizes, including a first prize of a $7,000 Apple Computer Inc. or Dell Inc. desktop system.
What do the big database companies think of the move? Oracle did not return a phone call by the time this story went to press. Tom Rizzo, director of product management for SQL Server at Microsoft, in Redmond, Wash., said he is mystified by CAs move. "To be frank, [even Sybase Inc.] has more market share than Ingres in the database market, so … I dont know what CAs strategy is in pushing Ingres.
"Frankly, [CA is] a good partner for SQL Server. They have Irwin, a database modeling tool that works with SQL Server. Its kind of interesting. Its a big company, so maybe one division is pushing Ingres and another is pushing SQL Server."
And Rizzo said that even if the $1 million contest reaps migration tools, the ROI (return on investment) for a migration from SQL Server still wouldnt make sense.
"Its interesting in that theyre paying for migration tools, but I cant see a customer wanting to migrate from a very functional database and business intelligence platform like SQL Server to a lower-quality, non-customer-deployed, non-benchmarked database like Ingres," he said.
"I dont see the ROI for the customer. Even if theres such a tool, how customers could justify that migration? Getting data over to the database is one thing. Its what applications run on it, how you manage it, what extra services like business intelligence and data mining are supported—those are all key considerations any customer makes in a migration.
"What does Ingres provide for any of those things? Id argue that SQL Server is above Ingres in all those capabilities, and Oracle and DB2 and all the other products."
For its part, IBM declined to respond. But an industry source close to the company was dismissive of the move. "IBM already has free development tools to move developers to DB2 from those other vendors—and there are many third-party providers who do the same—all based on user demand. Why does CA have to offer someone $1 million to do that?" she said. "[This move is CAs] version of American Database Idol."