July 12, 2006

Ingres’s questionable target market

Eric Lai of Computerworld interviewed Roger Burkhardt, new CEO of Ingres, and obviously did a bang-up job of asking him the tough “Who really are your target customers, and why would they buy from you?” questions. The answer, so far as I can tell, is “Large financial institutions writing new RDBMS apps that don’t need up-to-date functionality and don’t want to pay Oracle’s license fees.” Up to a point, that makes sense. Except for the “financial institutions” qualifier, it’s actually pretty obvious. I can’t imagine why any other new users would buy Ingres, which has been ever the bridesmaid, never the bride for the past 20 years.

*Speaking of “Why buy this DBMS?”, John Landry frequently tells the story of when he and Bob Weiler ran Cullinet in its last days. One quarter, they had exactly two new-name accounts. John and Bob looked at each other and wondered out loud, “Why in the world were there even two?” At least, he used to tell it. I haven’t seen John for a while, notwithstanding at least one occasion where my old PaineWebber colleague Steve Smith and I met up in Newton for a supposed dinner engagement with him — which is a very typical piece of Landry behavior. But I digress …

So is that a meaningfully large market? Packaged software in some financial verticals isn’t as strong as in other areas – but even so, who really writes a lot of apps from scratch? Trading departments of investment banks? They have a lot of Sybase in use, still, and if they kick it out can go in any of a number of directions, DB2 being perhaps the most common. Stock exchanges, like Burkhardt’s former employer? Sure, and there are a number of those around the world. Yay. But who else?

I’m kind of stumped here.


One Response to “Ingres’s questionable target market”

  1. DBMS2 — DataBase Management System Services»Blog Archive » Ingres tries to become relevant again on March 8th, 2007 1:50 pm

    […] Yes and no. To compete effectively in the mid-range OLTP relational database management system market, you need a product that’s much easier to administer than Oracle, and preferably easier even than Microsoft SQL*Server. Ingres doesn’t meet that standard. Until it does, it probably won’t have much of a market outside its current installed base. But some of Ingres’s strategies and directions are pretty clever, and may be interesting to people who’d never actually consider using Ingres technology. Specifically, Ingres has plans in the areas of appliances and database services, two subjects that are close to my heart. […]

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