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CA banking on Ingres

Computer Associates (CA) has Sybase in its crosshairs as it launches a campaign to lure banks and investment firms to its newly open sourced Ingres DBMS. But CA faces a number of hurdles.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Computer Associates International Inc. is launching an aggressive campaign to win over banks and investment firms using Sybase's Adaptive Server Enterprise (ASE) onto its recently open sourced Ingres DBMS.

To say that we're oblivious to open source is not true.
Tom Traubitz

Islandia , NY-based Computer Associates wants to take advantage of the uncertainty which has grown in recent years over the future of Sybase ASE. The uncertainty has prompted dithering database sales for Sybase, which has invested heavily in its mobile software business where it holds a 70% stake in the market.

Addressing more than 100 DBAs and IT managers gathered at the Ingres user conference Monday, Tony Gaughan, senior vice president of development at CA laid out his company's plans for Ingres.

"Having talked to a number of CTOs of those companies it seems to me that they have some real concerns in terms of the future viability of Sybase," Gaughan said. "We think Sybase is going away and we're putting together a campaign to go after that market."

Gaughan said Ingres makes a natural fit for many banks and other financial firms that use some Computer Associates software in day to day operations.

"From our office in Manhattan you can throw a stone and hit almost every financial institution there," Gaughan said. "We've been using our location as a leverage point to be able to communicate with those people and many have expressed interest in seeing the way Ingres scales and runs."

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Gaughan said Ingres will also market aggressively to small and medium size businesses, where Microsoft SQL Server has long had a strong hold. CA has seen opportunities in overseas markets, including parts of Eastern Europe, India and China, where companies are attracted to low cost open source software.

While Sybase has been touting its unwired message, the company has responded to the surge of interest in open source, by offering a scaled down edition of its DBMS on Linux, said Tom Traubitz, senior marketing manager, Sybase. Though the product only supports up to five gigabytes of data, Traubitz said it has logged more than 10,000 downloads since it was offered this summer.

"To say that we're oblivious to open source is not true," Traubitz said. "We've released the free Linux edition to reach out to new developers and secondly we're investing very heavily in our ASE 15 product which is in the first stage of beta."

While CA is eager to market its very mature DBMS, the company needs to work on building in support for SAP and PeopleSoft applications before it can gain any major financial customers, said Noel Yuhanna, a senior analyst with Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research Inc.

"At the moment, Sybase is doing improvements to its product to keep the levels acceptable in terms of the new features and functionalities," Yuhanna said. "Ingres has definitely had a very low profile, but the issue here is its lack of support for packaged applications like Peoplesoft or SAP, so most Sybase customers are heading towards Oracle or SQL Server."

Despite the uncertainty over whether CA can leverage the revitalization of Ingres, DBAs are excited about the prospects. Brad Kendrick, an Ingres and Oracle DBA at Waco, Texas-based Texas Life Insurance Company, said he hasn't seen the level of interest in Ingres in the 14 years he has been running and maintaining the DBMS.

"It's not complex and [it's] really stable and it's doing the job at a much cheaper cost than the big boys in the market," Kendrick said. "It's worthy of a look by any company out there looking for an alternative."

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