Computer Associates has more than doubled the number of users of its Ingres database by providing the open source community with the software.
In August, CA made the source code for its Ingres relational database available to download for free from its website.
CA's decision to make Ingres open source was a way for the supplier to test the potential of open source, said Meta analyst Charlie Garry, since the software company has a large inventory of older products and it needs to expand their user base.
"CA also hopes to create a standard set of common services for systems and database management tools and hopes to promote its stack as a standard," he said.
According to Meta, Ingres is just the first piece in that common services stack.
Under its open source licence, CA said more than 15,000 copies of Ingres have been downloaded. "This has exceeded my expectations. We have nearly doubled our installed base," said Mark Barrenechea, vice-president of product development at CA.
Barrenechea was confident open source would prove a good strategy for CA and benefit Ingres users. So far, he said, the company has a team of five engineers dedicated to working with the open source community. This team monitors websites and blogs to ascertain what security risks or product features need addressing, he said.
One result of this has been CA's decision to offer the Windows version of Ingres as open source. Barrenechea said, "We previously put out the Linux distribution, not Windows."
CA provides a global all-day, every day support programme for enterprise users with service levels. Barrenechea said the support for Ingres was the same as the company offers with its commercial product families.
Users not on a support contract will receive periodic database updates as a certified service pack.
The database has benefited from being open source, Barrenechea said. "We now have the strongest of features compared to [the rival] Oracle 9i."
This is not surprising since CA has incorporated the open source Oracle Cluster File System into Ingres. This technology is the architecture behind Oracle's implementation of real application clusters.
CA's $1m offer
Mark Barrenechea, vice-president of product development at CA, is confident that CA's open source bet will pay off. The company has issued a challenge to the developer community to develop migration toolkits for Ingres r3.
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It is offering cash rewards of up to $400,000 to open source developers to produce a utility to enable users of Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, Sybase Adaptive Enterprise Server, IBMDB2 Universal Database, Informix and/or MySQL to move to the Ingres r3 platform. The winners will be announced at CA-World in Orlando in April 2005.