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CA lets Ingres go

Making the right noises, but ...

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Comment When I first heard about Computer Associates letting Ingres go my reaction was negative, to say the least. But having discussed the matter with CA I am not as concerned as I was, though questions still remain.

The facts are simple: Ingres and OpenROAD will now be developed, managed and marketed by a new company called the Ingres Corporation, which has already been established. CA will hold a minority stake in this organisation and a number of the company’s staff have moved to the new company, which already has in excess of 100 employees. It is expected that the company will double in size over the next six months.

As far as CA’s ongoing use of Ingres is concerned, it will continue to embed the database in its products. These fall into two categories: products where there is no current choice, such as eTrust Directory; and where there is choice, such as UniCenter, Ingres is the default option unless you prefer to use Oracle or SQL Server. This will continue to be the case.

One thing that has not been decided is whether the OpenROAD development environment will also be moved into the Open Source community, as is the case with Ingres.

CA has also assured me that it has no plans to sell off (or outsource, which would be another way of looking at this move) any of its other products and it says that such moves are likely to be extremely rare – the company says maybe one product every two years. Assuming that this is the case (and I have no reason to assume otherwise) then that should provide some sort of surety for users of other non-strategic products within CA’s portfolio.

There are two remaining questions. The first is whether this move is good for Ingres users and for potential users of that product? My inclination is to suspect that it will at least be better than it might otherwise have been. The truth is that, the move to Open Source aside, CA has really done relatively little with Ingres since it acquired it so we can hope that we’ll see a faster pace of development in the future. Certainly, the fact that it is in the Open Source community should help: DATAllegro, in particular, has advanced the capability of the product since it started to use it. Whether Ingres can establish itself as a major competitor to MySQL and/or as the Open Source alternative to Oracle, remains to be seen.

The second question remains as to why CA decided to take this action in the first place? The company says that it felt it was not best placed to take the product forward. I do not understand this answer. The company feels capable of taking ERWin forward, as well as its portal and ETL products; it feels capable of taking Datacom and IDMS forward; it feels capable of taking the Gen family of development tools forward – so why does it feel incapable of taking Ingres and OpenROAD forward? I can think of only one answer to this question: the company was not prepared to make the necessary commitment to Ingres.

This raises two further issues: how committed will CA be to the Ingres Corporation on an ongoing basis? And what else might it decide it was not committed to? As I have already described, the company is making the right noises in answer to these questions but the proof of the pudding will be in the eating.

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