Ingres: the forgotten database

The untold story

Broken CD with wrench

Ingres (technically, Advantage Ingres Enterprise) is, arguably, the forgotten database. There used to be five major databases: Oracle, DB2, Sybase, Informix and Ingres, writes Phil Howard, of Bloor Research. Then along came Microsoft and, if you listened to most press comment (or the lack of it), you would think that there were only two of these left, plus SQL Server.

The perception is that Informix, Sybase and Ingres are all dead in the water. Nothing could be further from the truth. For example, IBM is continuing (despite claims to the contrary by Oracle) to grow the Informix user base.

However, the big news that you won't have heard is that Ingres is by far the fastest growing database of these three and, although I don't have figures to corroborate this, it is not unlikely that the growth of the user base for Ingres is comparable to that of the 800lb gorillas.

This may seem a remarkable statement. If it's true, why hasn't it been picked up by IDC or other firms that do this sort of statistical analysis? The answer is simple: Computer Associates doesn't count product sales in the same way that other companies do.

If you license Unicenter from CA then that counts as a sale of Unicenter. It doesn't count as a sale of anything else. But Ingres has been embedded within Unicenter for 7 years. Every sale of Unicenter has been a sale of Ingres but not one of the latter has been counted by CA as such a sale.

Now, put yourself in Larry Ellison's shoes (if you really want to): do you really think that sales of Oracle Financials do not get counted as sales of the Oracle database? Of course they do. From a marketing perspective it is entirely legitimate to count this as a sale of both products, as long as you don't do so from a revenue perspective.

Let's go back to CA. Ingres is not only embedded in Unicenter, it is also embedded in BrightStor, eTrust and EDBC (which is the company's middleware connectivity product). In fact, CA is in the process of embedding Ingres in every one of its products (of which there were over 1,200 the last time I counted) that requires a relational database.

Put the sales of all of those products together, plus the fact that CA is growing the Ingres user base directly (particularly through VARs and ISVs) and you get a product that is actually growing much faster than you thought: you may have forgotten about it, but CA certainly hasn't: Ingres is much more widely used and deployed than most in the market would give it credit for.

Unfortunately for those that want to get a true picture of the market, CA does not limit itself to single counting Ingres. It does the same thing for CleverPath Portal and for Neugents, thus under emphasising the impact of both the portal product and CleverPath Predictive Analysis Server (which is used to develop the Neugents that are embedded to provide predictive analysis capability within applications). No doubt it does the same thing for other products too.

Maybe I should congratulate CA for not playing the game - when there are marketing sharks in the water it is certainly safer to keep your toes out of the pool - but it leads to the rest of use getting even more misled.

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