Ingres CEO unfazed by Oracle's MySQL play

When Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems it also bought MySQL AB, the company behind the open source MySQL database, which Ingres CEO, Roger Burkhardt, says was hardly intentional and resulted in the company staving off a "future competitor".

"MySQL is not a competitor to an enterprise-class database," Burkhardt said. "It's a lightweight Web-oriented, easy to develop for offering."

"Was MySQL on a path to get investment from Sun to be an enterprise database? So Oracle bought a future competitor."

Burkhardt was formerly CIO of the New York Stock Exchange and had a lengthly career on Wall Street. He also spent 15 years with IBM.

"When I was on Wall St, Sun was big, but it lost the desktop and then lost the server to Linux," he said, adding it's difficult for Unix vendors to compete with a scale player like Intel.

"Open source provides protection against acquisition. For example, Oracle is already starting to up the MySQL prices and if they raise them too much someone else can move in and offer support for it. There are big issues around prices getting jacked up around monopolies."

Burkhardt said the community development around Ingres allows it to attract the best people to work on the database and went so far as to say the company has had "far more impact on our product with community development than MySQL ever did".

"In Australia we have customers using Ingres to track natural resources and to improve this we set up an open source project which has attracted likes of Google and researchers in China. Geospatial scientists in Canada have been working on this for three years which we will release in version 10 this quarter."

Burkhardt said open source drives companies to produce software people want, which is different to big software comapnies that develop software around a product plan.

To improve its standing among competitors, Ingres released migration tools for Oracle, Microsoft's SQL Server and one for MySQL is coming "in a few weeks".

Burkhardt is in Sydney to speak at the first business and ISV community event around open source dubbed Splash.

"It's a bit of a milestone to have a business class open source event in Australia and open source can offer an alternative across the whole spectrum," he said.

Burkhardt cited research from Brisbane-based IT analyst firm, Longhaus, that about two-thirds of Australian companies have written policies on open open source.

"Almost all are positive and that is a big change from five or six years ago," he said. "You can take out cost with open source, but also be more flexible. Flexibility has scored higher than cost reduction."

Australian software companies need to adopt open source if they are to stand a chance against Oracle

"The most important finding from Longhaus was based on a government funded survey of business adoption of open source. There was a pronounced inmprovement in profitability among those who had adopted open source. If you look at Oracle, our ISVs tell us they lose 20 to 30 per cent of a customer's budget into what should be a commodity."

"Oracle has a lock-on proprietary pricing and it is now competing with ISVs in the application space. Australian software companies need to adopt open source if they are to stand a chance against Oracle."

Ingres is also looking to up its ISV community and Burkhardt said the company has made a lot of progress with its ISV programs. A few years back local software company, Technology One, dropped support for then CA-owned Ingres due to uncertaintly about its future.

"In 2009 we ran an ISV recruitment campiagn and extended it globally in January. We are getting three customers a day through the program," Burkhardt said.

Burkhardt is also uncertain about SAP's motives for the recent acquisition of Sybase.

"I was talking to a CIO of a Wall Street firm about Sybase and not a single one of his peers was doing anything on Sybase," he said, adding Ingres' new VectorWise technology is winning hearts in the data processing and analytics space.

"Putting my old CIO hat on, BI projects are notoriuous for being dificult as they are inflexible. With VectorWise, we now have the ability to solve problems business couldn't solve in the past."

"We collaborated with research scientists and took a high-performance database and embedded it in Ingres. When we validated it with Intel we expereinced from 10- to 80-times performance improvements with little changes to SQL code."

Burkhardt said Ingres is speaking to a lot of former MySQL staff and recently hired a person who had worked on the PostgreSQL open source database.

Rodney Gedda is Deputy Editor of CIO Australia. Follow Rodney on Twitter at @rodneygedda. Rodney's e-mail address is Follow CIO Australia on Twitter at @CIO_Australia.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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