Open source specialist Great Bridge closes

The open source database developer Great Bridge announced on 9 September that it would cease operations.

The open source database developer Great Bridge announced on 9 September that it would cease operations.

Founded by Landmark Communications to develop a commercial version of the PostgreSQL open source database, Great Bridge lasted for only 16 months.

Despite its short life, the company had developed a deep pool of hacker talent to create its software code and was once identified as one of the "25 Coolest Global Companies" by the US magazine, Fortune.

Great Bridge officials that they did not believe that PostgreSQL was doomed because of the commercial venture's collapse. "We remain convinced that open source solutions - in particular the PostgreSQL database - present compelling and viable alternatives for business computing," said Frank Batten Jr, the chairman of Landmark Communications and founder of Great Bridge.

Even so, "the board was not convinced that, given the current economic climate, the company could generate revenues at a level to meet the required expenses of the business within the company's funding horizon," he said.

PostgreSQL, which adds object capabilities to standard SQL, was originally developed as a teaching tool at the University of California in 1984, and has been developed over the Internet since 1996.

In March 2000, Ned Lilly, Great Bridge's vice-president, had expressed confidence in the potential of Postgres. "Everyone who is involved feels really good about its prospects. It's not much of a stretch for them to [think] there's a market opportunity here. Oracle is monolithic, so it's not a leap to visualise [success]. The open source database wave is starting to crest."

Even at LinuxWorld in San Francisco in early September, the company had a large booth and seemed to be going strong.

Confidence in the technology, however, wasn't enough to bolster revenue. In July, Great Bridge sought additional investors or a buyer, but was unable to get fresh funding. This finally prompted the company's board to cease trading.

Bruce Momjian, a vice-president of database development at Great Bridge, said: "We've lost the marketing muscle of Great Bridge, which was huge." But he added that the closing would have a minimal impact on PostgreSQL itself and that development would continue in the open source community.

Though Great Bridge does not have an exact number of users, Momjian said he got "calls from all over the world. I know that we've got an active community of people in the thousands on our user lists."

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