CA, IBM Moving Databases Open Source

Computer Associates positions open source Ingres as a natural for Big Iron Linux; IBM's Cloudscape will become Apache's Derby

At the Linux World show last week, Computer Associates International Inc. (CA) and IBM Corp. announced plans to open source two relational database products, Ingres R3 and CloudScape, respectively.

Ingres, which CA acquired in 1995, harkens back to the early days of RDBMS development, when it typically competed with the likes of Oracle and IBM’s DB2 (running on the mainframe) for market share. Cloudscape, on the other hand, is a Java relational database implementation with a somewhat involved pedigree. That’s because the former Cloudscape Inc. was gobbled up by the former Informix Corp. in 1991, which was itself acquired by IBM in 2001.

IBM plans to donate 500,000 lines of Cloudscape code to the open source Apache Software Foundation (ASF). CA, for its part, says it will make the Ingres code available via its CA Trusted Open Source License (CA-TOSL). The software giant says that CA-TOSL is an Open Source Initiative-compliant licensing scheme.

For several years now, the once-high-flying Ingres has been widely dismissed as an also-ran in the RDBMS market. In 2003, for example, CA captured 0.4 percent of the overall database market, according to market research giant International Data Corp. Moreover, recent market research from Gartner Inc. indicates that IBM, Oracle, and Microsoft effectively control the RDMBS market, collectively accounting for 87 percent of overall share, per Gartner’s 2003 totals. Disregarding NCR Corp. subsidiary Teradata—which snagged 2.8 percent of the overall RDBMS market—CA, Sybase Inc., MySQL, and others are vying for just over 10 percent of share.

CA, for its part, claims that Ingres is still used by 15,000 corporate customers. It’s unclear, however, if that figure includes licenses held by users of CA’s products, many of which are designed to exploit Ingres as a repository. In any case, the software giant is optimistic that an open source Ingres R3 can compete against MySQL and other open source databases—as well as established RDBMSes such as Oracle, DB2, or Microsoft’s SQL Server 2000.

“If you look at MySQL, it’s not really a transaction database. It’s very good at what it does from being able to query information and assemble that information in some way,” says Tony Gaughan, senior vice-president with CA. “It’s probably three to five years behind where we are in terms of maturity of product, so we don’t really see that as being the space that we’ll compete most in. I think where we’ll compete more is perhaps with the likes of SQL Server, DB2, or Oracle.”

Perhaps surprisingly, Jeff Jones, director of strategy for Big Blue’s data management solutions, agrees. “I think [CA is] indeed going after Oracle and DB2. I think that commercial databases will compare more favorably to Ingres on a feature/function basis,” he says. Adds Jones: “My first reaction is that Ingres sort of fell off the radar screen a while ago. Why are they bringing it back now?”

Gaughan and other CA officials also believe that there’s an opportunity to establish Ingres as a DB2 alternative in Big Iron Linux shops—particularly in light of the licensing and maintenance costs associated with running mainframe DB2, or even its Universal Database (UDB) alternative.

“[IBM is] quoting 34 percent of the marketplace for a VM solution running Linux on mainframes. We think [that] with a couple of things that will grow,” says Sam Greenblatt, a senior VP and chief architect of CA’s Linux Technology Group. “We have three Wall Street firms that are absolutely committed to [Ingres on the mainframe]. They are wild, they are really jazzed over the fact that we’re putting Ingres under Linux. These are all existing DB2 [UDB] customers.”

For example, Greenblatt says, customers who want to use Ingres running on big Iron Linux in tandem with mainframe DB2 won’t have to pony up the cash for Big Blue’s DB2 Connect product, as they would if they ran DB2 UDB on mainframe Linux.

Mike Schiff, a senior analyst with Current Analysis, concedes that there’s “potentially an opportunity” for Ingres to compete on Big Iron, but questions the extent to which CA can revivify the long-dormant Ingres database. Schiff thinks the company’s strategy of targeting tier-one RDBMS vendors, not simply open source competitors, makes sense, but adds a further wrinkle. “I don’t necessarily think that it’s MySQL they should be competing against. It’s something like SAP DB, which is derived from the old Adabase D. SAP turned it over to MySQL as an open source database [now called MaxDB] and that’s a place where they can maybe compete.”

Although open-source software and the Linux operating system are synonymous, Schiff thinks CA should avoid positioning Ingres as a Linux-only play: “I don’t have the market share numbers in front of me, but I do know that Oracle and IBM have effectively locked that [the Linux RDBMS market] up.”

In 2003, Gartner found that Oracle grew its revenue in the Linux RDBMS market by over 360 percent, snaring 69.1 percent of the overall market. IBM, for its part, lost share in 2003, plunging from 58.6 percent of the market in 2002 to 28.5 percent in 2003. Nevertheless, Gartner found that new RDBMS license revenue for Linux totaled $299.3 million in 2003—a jump of 158 percent from 2002.

One challenge associated with displacing existing IBM, Microsoft, and Oracle customers is the cost of migrating from one database to another. CA’s Greenblatt says that his company doesn’t plan to introduce any migration utilities on its own. “We think if we build it, the community will follow. It’s an area where there has to be some community development activity. We absolutely believe that will happen,” he says.

CA isn’t leaving anything to chance. Also at Linux World, the software company announced a total of $1 million in prizes to encourage programmers to develop open-source tools that can help customers migrate applications and data from DB2, Oracle, SQL Server, and other databases to Ingres R/3. CA plans to bestow as many as five prizes, with the first-prize winner taking home $300,000. The winners will be announced at CA World 2005, officials say.

Cloudscape/Derby, Ingres Not Necessarily Competitors

Notwithstanding their mutual open sourced-ness, IBM’s Jones says that Ingres and Cloudscape database—which the ASF will rechristen “Derby”—aren’t necessarily competitive.

“[Derby] is an embeddable database, It plays in the Java world as a very easily embedded SQL-compliant relational database, so we think of it as more of an application extension because of the way it works and is installed,” he comments. “[Ingres is] a large engine. It’s more of an engine though, and doesn’t have embeddable pure Java capability.”

Because Cloudscape is small—Jones says it’s the size of a two-megabyte JAR file—IBM believes it’s an excellent candidate for the embedded market. In fact, he notes, IBM uses it for that purpose internally in about 70 different applications and services, including its WebSphere Application Server and Tivoli Storage Area Network Manager products.

IBM still plans to resell Derby, charging for support and value-added services. “We will take Derby back and do testing, do integration and the typical industrial things we do to software and then charge for support for a Derby package,” he says.

Existing customers can either remain on Cloudscape or upgrade to DB2 UDB, says Jones. “Because [Cloudscape] is SQL-92 compliant, and because DB2 is also SQl-92 complaint, there’s a nice upgrade path. So if a customer really wants to go the next step and scale higher, then they have a nice smooth path.”

Jones stresses that IBM isn’t merely handing the Cloudscape code over to ASF. Instead, he says, the technologists who work with Cloudscape will also be tasked to the Derby project.

For his part, Schiff thinks that the Cloudscape deal is a win-win for IBM. Not only does it possibly give Big Blue a tax write-off—some open source software donations are tax deductible—but it also helps enhance IBM’s standing in the open source software community.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.