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CA swings at Oracle, SQL Server with Ingres

Computer Associates International Inc. is making its open sourced Ingres DBMS widely available today, pitching its mature features and 64-bit support at Oracle and SQL Server customers.

Computer Associates International Inc. (CA) is making Ingres r3 DBMS for Linux and Windows widely available today under its open source license. CA executives said this will bolster Ingres' ability to compete against Oracle and SQL Server.

"We're pitching this against Oracle and SQL Server because it has the stability and reliability that can compete with any of their offerings, and it is being used in very large, mission critical environments," said Emma McGrattan, vice president of Ingres development at CA. "Our feature sets and low maintenance is very desirable against those well-known database vendors."

It has the stability and reliability that can compete with any of their offerings, and it is being used in very large, mission critical environments.
Emma McGrattan,
vice president of Ingres developmentComputer Associates

CA is going after Oracle's real application clusters (RAC) strategy, highlighting Ingres' support for high availability Linux clusters on cheaper hardware to reduce performance interruptions. Ingres can also fully exploit 64-bit environments.

In August, CA released Ingres r3 source code, which it calls a Trusted Open Source License. Despite retaining control over the products and features generated by the open source community, the Islandia, N.Y.-based company has generated a lot of interest in Ingres.

Ingres was developed as a research project at the University of California, Berkeley, during the mid-'70s. Ingres source code was freely available for a modest fee and helped shape several commercial DBMSes, including Sybase, SQL Server and Informix.

Ingres became a commercial DBMS in the mid-'80s, with features and reliability comparable to Oracle, according to experts.

However, the database never gained market momentum and has floundered since the '80s. One problem was its lack of row-level locking, a major feature that usually steered customers to Oracle, IBM and Microsoft, said McGrattan, who has been associated with the Ingres DBMS before it was purchased by CA in the '90s.

"At that time we did page-level locking and Oracle did row-level locking and that always seemed to be the difference when it came down to a comparison," McGrattan said. "It's one that bit us a lot of times."

It's a feature that CA implemented when it purchased Ingres in '94, according to McGrattan. Since then, other features have made it a solid product among dozens of large companies.

Unicode data support, table partitioning, parallel query, online table reorganization, triggers, bi-directional replication, automatic space management and program language precompilers are key features in Ingres that are not commonly found in other open source databases, said Noel Yuhanna, a senior analyst at Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research Inc. While Ingres is much more mature then the MySQL open source DBMS, it still doesn't rank with Oracle, which is improving its RAC technology, Yuhanna said.

"Oracle's technology is still far superior, and they still dominate this industry and have taken clustering to larger level where you can scale multiple nodes," Yuhanna said. "But CA is pushing hard on trying to get Ingres known in the industry, and they are taking the right steps with the open source strategy by generating interest."

For More Information:

Open source making its mark

The cost of open source

Michael Leo, chief technologist at Minneapolis.-based software consultancy Caribou Lake, uses the Ingres DBMS to test his company's Java-based software. Leo has used the Ingres DBMS for nearly a decade and swears by its ability to support mission critical business systems.

"CA is putting a considerable effort to build a community around Ingres, and we and our customers like to see that they are committed to the database," Leo said. "They're showing commitment because it takes time and money to open yourself up and explain to your non-core developers how you build the DBMS from scratch."

Ingres supports systems at several large manufacturers in Minnesota, including a medical device manufacturer that uses the DBMS as the control system of its assembly line, Leo said.

"I've seen customers that have had Ingres up and running for years before they had to reboot it," Leo said. "It's a well-established and hardened DBMS and deserves consideration."

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