March 8, 2007

Ingres tries to become relevant again

Ingres has non-trivial resources – 300 employees, 10,000 “real” customers, and some additional large number of installations embedded in CA products. It has a fairly pure support-only open source revenue model, although there may be exceptions to that in cases such as the DATAllegro relationship.

Should anybody care?

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.

Ingres has just announced Icebreaker, a virtual appliance combining the Ingres database and elements of rPath Linux. No decision has been made to offer Icebreaker as a physical appliance; if such is offered, it will only be Type II, with no custom hardware. As the name suggests, Ingres hopes Icebreaker will help it attract interest from new-name accounts. I don’t think this will succeed much at first, because of administrability issues. But assuming those get fixed, Ingres has some interesting ideas for the future.

That brings us to the second part of the story – database services. Frankly, I suspect Ingres is still a little confused as to what it means by the term. But that’s OK; I little unclear as to what I mean by it myself, and I’ve been using it longer than they have. The basic idea seems to be that they want to offer domain-specific virtual appliances with Icebreaker underpinnings. If this means a specific third-party applications, that’s really just like selling Icebreaker through the OEM/VAR channel they already use to sell some Ingres, and makes perfect sense. If they mean more than that, like BI – hmm. That would mean ETL as well. I guess it’s doable at small shops that have very few applications – but in that case, why not just run BI on your main production system instead? I guess I’d need to be convinced of some plentiful use cases before – well, before I was convinced.

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2 Responses to “Ingres tries to become relevant again”

  1. Mark R. Winston on March 9th, 2007 8:54 pm

    When you say that “Ingres doesn’t meet that standard.”, in reference to being easier to administer than Oracle or MS SQL Server, I think you’re incorrect. Ingres has historically been fundamentally easy to administer, with on-line backups and auto-sizing files (where tables and indexes are stored) being long-standing features. Oracle’s backup/recovery scenarios are at the very least complex, and MS SQL Server is locked into the Windows OS paradigm. If you’re saying that Ingres hasn’t had a history of great GUI tools, that’s correct, although since Ingres 2.6 the VDBA suite has been very robust, offering a graphical front-end for detailed views of table structures and usage and analysis of journal files (tx records “cleared” from the primary tx log) to name a few. I would argue, however, that the retention of Ingres character-based and command-line management tools through the latest release is something that is relied upon by Ingres DBA’s administering some of the most critical public and private sector data on the planet. When you are on-call with a problem that requires “dialing-in” to analyze the situation, the last thing you want is a bloated interface, web or otherwise, when you’re connection is 14.4K over your mobile phone 🙂

    If you wanted to provide mid-range OLTP database services you’d be hard pressed to match Ingres DBMS on GNU/Linux with an offering from either Oracle or Microsoft that was either as easy to manage or comparably priced, especially for 64-bit, so if Ingres can generate the recognition for what it has I’d say it’s market prospects look very good, in fact.

  2. The Monash Report»Blog Archive » Have analytics vendors rediscovered ease-of-deployment? on March 16th, 2007 9:12 pm

    […] Ingres is headed in the same direction. […]

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