ANTs Software

ANTs Software
Analysis of data integration and former DBMS vendor ANTs Software. Related subjects include:

April 4, 2011

ANTs Software updates

I drafted the partial post quoted below some months ago, but never finished it, as my general posting hiatus hit. Anyhow, I just thought of ANTs again, due to a LinkedIn request from an exec, and it came back to mind. Subsequent news includes that the product had to be temporarily pulled from the market (what a shock), there was $200,000 of IBM revenue through the end of 2010 (by ANTs’ standards, that’s a lot), and at some point three Sybase-to-IBM product sales actually got closed.

ANTs Software recently came (back) to my attention when, ego-surfing, I saw they had made up some falsehoods about me and posted same in their blog. So I posted about ANTs Software. Now that the ANTs Software blog is on my radar, I see there’s another post from CEO Joe Kozak stating his case that ANTs Software is a good investment. I also notice that there’s an active S-1 to sell ANTs Software stock, dated two weeks before the blog post. Frankly, it surprises me that it’s legal to recommend your own stock that emphatically while you’re in registration — but hey, I tend to be on the side of favoring more communication over less.

According to the ANTs Software 10-Q for the quarter ended June 30, ANTs Software has >$2 million in negative working capital — which this offering apparently won’t change (it’s for a shareholder to sell stock, not for ANTs to raise more money for itself).

Actually, ANTs did manage to get its working capital positive again. The key paragraph from the 10-K linked above, emphasis mine, is

The consolidated financial statements contemplate continuation of the Company as a going concern.  However, the Company has had minimal revenues since inception, suffered recurring losses from operations, has generated negative cash flows from operations and has an accumulated deficit of $156.97 million as of December 31, 2010 that raise substantial doubt about the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern. The Company also had significant near-term liquidity needs as of December 31, 2010, including $0.25 million currently due on a line of credit and $2.00 million in notes payable due January 31, 2011. Subsequent to December 31, 2010, the Company received proceeds from a $3.00 million subscription receivable (less $0.39 million in fees, including $0.24 million in dispute) for the sale of 5.18 million shares of common stock pursuant to the BRG Agreement, $0.06 million in proceeds from the exercise of warrants covering 0.13 million shares of common stock and gross proceeds of $0.75 million from the Note and Warrant Purchase Agreements.  The outstanding balance on the line of credit was subsequently repaid and the notes payable were subsequently deferred until January 31, 2013. The Company’s ability to continue as a going concern is dependent upon management’s ability to generate profitable operations in the future and obtain the necessary financing to meet obligations and repay liabilities arising from normal business operations when they come due. The Company anticipates generating profitable operations from marketing and sales of ACS and the growth of our Professional Services offerings for ACS implementations. If the Company does not generate profitable operations or obtain the necessary financing, the Company may not have enough operating funds to continue to operate as a going concern. Securing additional sources of financing to enable the Company to continue the development and commercialization of proprietary technologies will be difficult and there is no assurance of our ability to secure such financing. A failure to generate profitable operations or obtain additional financing could prevent the Company from making expenditures that are needed to pay current obligations, allow the hiring of additional development personnel and continue development of its software and technologies. The Company continues actively seeking additional capital through private placements of equity and debt.

Bottom line: $157 million in losses have produced 3 sales (with more presumably coming) of a product that isn’t that important in the first place (it just helps you move from a perfectly decent DBMS to one you might like better while saving on migration costs). That makes almost any other failure in software industry history look like a rousing success by comparison.

August 4, 2010

ANTs Software CEO insults Sybase, claims migration success

Jeff Pryslak of Sybase put up a post insulting ANTs Software and the general idea of ANTs-aided Sybase-to-DB2 migration. CEO Joe Kozak of ANTs hit back with a rambling diatribe, which came to my attention because he mentioned my name in it, making some rather fanciful remarks about the “long” relationship I used to have with ANTs Software. (I do recall at least one briefing, plus some attempts from them to buy my services under the condition that I agree to a ridiculous NDA, which I refused to sign.)

This piqued my interest, so — recalling that ANTs is a public company — I decided to take a look at just how successful their software products business is. Well, for the quarter ended March 31, 2010, ANTs’ 10-Q filing says (emphasis mine):  Read more

May 12, 2010

Quick reactions to SAP acquiring Sybase

SAP is acquiring Sybase. On the conference call SAP said Sybase would be run as a separate division of SAP (no surprise). Most of the focus was on Sybase’s mobile technology, which is forecast at >$400 million in 2010 revenues (which would be 30%ish of the total). My quick reactions include: Read more

April 22, 2009

DBMS transparency layers never seem to sell well

A DBMS transparency layer, roughly speaking, is software that makes things that are written for one brand of database management system run unaltered on another.* These never seem to sell well. ANTs has failed in a couple of product strategies. EnterpriseDB’s Oracle compatibility only seems to have netted it a few sales, and only a small fraction of its total business. ParAccel’s and Dataupia’s transparency strategies have produced even less.

*The looseness in that definition highlights a key reason these technologies don’t sell well — it’s hard to be sure that what you’re buying will do a good job of running your particular apps.

This subject comes to mind for two reasons. One is that IBM seems to have licensed EnterpriseDB’s Oracle transparency layer for DB2. The other is that a natural upgrade path from MySQL to Oracle might be a MySQL transparency layer on top of an Oracle base.

Read more

June 20, 2008

Derek Rodner blasts ANTs Software

Derek Rodner got snarky, and blasted Ants Software. Highlights include (emphasis mine):

I have never seen more thinly veiled attempts to make themselves bigger than they are. … In 2005, they did almost a half million dollars in revenue. That’s right, I said a half million, or $467,000 to be exact. In 2006, it got worse at $288,000 in revenue and last year they did $360,000. Yet, they continue to drone on about their “consortium” which, from the outside simply looks like a beta program. Its no consortium. … And, they continue to mention a major deal with IBM that COULD be worth millions over time. You can read about it in every SEC filing. But, it has never materialized. … They announced a major Oracle partnership, but Oracle never acknowledges their existence. I think they simply signed up for the partner program at oracle and paid the $1500. … Sybase is paying them $1.4 million to do whatever they want with the entire product line from ANTs. … This means that Sybase can do whatever they want with the product, including reselling it without paying another dime to ANTs.

May 30, 2008

ANTs bails out of the DBMS market

ANTs Data Server — i.e., the ANTs DBMS — has been sold off to a company called 4Js. It is now to be called Genero DB. Actually, 4Js has been selling or working on a version of the product called Genero DB since 2006, specifically an Informix-compatible one.

I’m not totally clear on why an Informix-compatible DBMS is needed in a world that already has Informix SE, but maybe IBM is overcharging for maintenance even on the low-end version of the product.

Meanwhile, ANTs, which had originally tried to get enterprises to migrate away from Oracle, is now focused on middleware called the ANTs Compatibility Server to help them migrate to Oracle, specifically/initially from Sybase.

July 26, 2007

An era of easier database portability?

More and more, I find myself addressing questions of database portability and transparency, most particularly in the cases of EnterpriseDB, Ants Software, and now also Dataupia. None of those three efforts is very large yet, but so far I’d rate their respective buzzes to be very encouraging in the case of EnterpriseDB, non-discouraging or better in the case of Ants, and too early to judge for Dataupia. On the whole, it definitely seems like a matter worthy of attention.

With that as backdrop, where is all this compatibility/portability/transparency stuff going to lead? Read more

June 12, 2007

DBMS plug-compatibility gaining steam

ANTs Software’s primary focus isn’t really even on DBMS any more. Even so, it just announced a deal to replace Informix in a large retail chain’s in-store systems. (In its 1990s heyday, Informix wound up running in-store systems at an impressive list of major retailers. Of course, Informix was long ago acquired by IBM.)

EnterpriseDB has probably passed ANTs in the DBMS plug-compability business. And taken together they’re still pretty small. Even so, plug-compatible DBMS replacement has to be taken seriously as a (possibly) emerging trend. Economically, it makes all the sense in the world.

April 23, 2007

The big ANTs secret is officially out

ANTs has now put out a press release saying what was already obvious — the company is offering middleware to run applications written for one DBMS over another backend instead. The ANTs folks fondly think their own engine is just as good as anybody else’s, but realistically customers prefer name-brand DBMS for persistent storage, so that’s what they’re offering.
Read more

April 11, 2007

ANTs Software is finally making some sense

ANTs Software is in essence a “public venture capital” outfit, with over $100 million in market capitalization and negligible revenue. It also features some interesting ideas in OLTP data management, a new management team (as of last year), and a new strategy. ANTs’ new strategy, in my opinion, stands a better chance of success than its predecessor, which in essence was to tell large enterprises “Throw out Oracle and use ANTs DB instead for your most mission-critical OLTP apps, because it’s faster, cheaper, and compatible.”

There actually are two prongs to ANTs’ new strategy. One of them, however, is a Big Secret that the company adamantly insists I not write about, notwithstanding that it is pretty much spelled out in this press release. The other is high-performance OLTP for specialized apps, in defense, telecom, financial trading, etc. The best way to summarize what “high-performance” means is this: When I asked what the technical sweet spot for ANTs DB, Engineering VP Rao Yendluri said “Half a million updates per second.” Read more

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