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ANTs hoping to ruin Oracle's picnic

An executive for ANTs Software Inc. makes a case for his firm's namesake data server over Oracle and other leading database management systems.

Executives at ANTs Software Inc. are hoping that hefty licensing fees generally associated with Oracle's namesake database management system (DBMS) will prompt customers to take a look at the Ants Data Server (ADS), a high performance database that was designed to replace or compliment Oracle and other DBMS market leaders like MySQL, Sybase and Microsoft SQL Server.

ANTs argues that ADS, which includes a SQL query execution engine, can typically be deployed on fewer servers than competitors, giving it the potential to lower hardware, software and system administration costs. caught up with Cesar Rojas, ANTs' senior marketing director, to find out more about the technology behind ADS and the customers that are using it. Rojas, who sought to make a case for ANTs over Oracle, also discussed some new functionality being added to the product later this year.

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Could you tell me a little bit about the features and functionality of ADS?

Cesar Rojas: It's a fully relational DBMS. [It offers compliance capabilities, standards support, replication both two way and one way, application failover and monitoring capabilities.] From this point of view we are like every other database. The differentiation comes on two major [fronts]. The first one is compatibility and the second one is performance. We have designed our database to support consolidation, with consolidation and replacement of databases in mind. We have built the database in a way that we can actually move data and logic from Oracle and Sybase and SQL Server into the ANTs Data Server. Right now we are focusing more on those three because that is where we see the bulk of the business at this point.

Are you marketing your data server as a replacement for Oracle?

Rojas: It can replace Oracle and it can be a compliment of Oracle the same way that TimesTen is a compliment of Oracle. By covering caching to Oracle it can turbo-charge the actual Oracle database. [And it caches] specific tables and stored procedures and triggers into some sort of a middle tier layer -- similar in that case to TimesTen. That is the third sort of positioning that we are working on right now -- the ability to become the database of the middle tier for service-oriented applications. But that focus is just starting for our company. The bulk of our business is pretty much the replacement business. We are successfully moving customers that are paying an unbelievable amount of money to Oracle into an environment that is more cost-effective and it has all that they would expect out of an Oracle database.

You say your company is currently in the replacement business as opposed to the migration business. What's the difference?

Rojas: Typical tools that do migration actually convert a lot of data. But when it comes to logic-type [stuff] like stored procedures, triggers and vertical packages, that kind of conversion is very difficult to do with an automated tool. A lot of that happens manually and those kinds of tools discourage customers from doing an effective migration. We've seen it for every single vendor [including] Oracle Migration Workbench and different migration tools from other vendors. It's been a very unsuccessful approach so far.

You said that ANTs can give customers a more cost-effective environment than Oracle. What exactly makes that so and could you provide an example?

Rojas: We have the ability to significantly reduce licenses -- maintenance as well as hardware costs -- by minimizing the level of resources that a particular application will require out of Oracle. For [Sprint Nextel], they had about eight hardware servers running SQL Server and they had eight backup servers also running SQL Server. In total they had 16 servers. They moved to ANTs and with ANTs they had only two servers processing the same amount of data… and we increased the performance of the application. It was an SMS, a messaging application that was processing [on weekdays] about 220 messages per second. With us, they are actually processing about 800 SMS messages per second. So by doing that they are increasing their profit potential as well.

Last week your firm announced that Cadbury-Schweppes PLC, the well known soft drink and candy firm, moved an application off Oracle and onto the ANTs data server. Could you tell me a little about that process?

Rojas: Cadbury was mainly looking for cost reduction. For Cadbury we've done a very successful conversion of a pilot application and based on that conversion the vice president of global IT solutions at Cadbury, Robert Peterson, has decided to move forward with some other applications. To finalize the pilot we moved the Oracle packages, we moved stored procedures, functions, tables, views… and all sorts of objects away from Oracle 9i into the ANTs Data Server. We successfully did that and at the same time we increased the performance about two times.

What is the latest version of ANTs and what new functionality will you be adding in the future?

Rojas: Right now we're on version 3.4 and we're moving into beta for 3.6 on September 30th. What we're going to be doing is actually increasing our support for Oracle by adding [support for] Oracle packages and Oracle OCI [Oracle Core Interface]. OCI is the primary way that applications connect to the core. Most Oracle applications don't use ODBC to connect to the Oracle DBMS. They use the proprietary interface which is OCI.

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