Ingres: An Open Source Rival to Oracle

I’ve been following the path of Ingres Corp. ever since Terry Garnett and David Helfrich of Garnett & Helfrich Capital bought it from CA a few years back and made it into an independent company once again. Ingres and MySQL are the main open-source alternatives to Oracle in the database software market. Now that Oracle is buying Sun Microsystems, which owns MySQL, you’ve got to figure that Oracle will starve MySQL once it owns it—eliminating what had until now been a potent rival in the Web site market. Ingres is emerging as the last bastion of opposition within the open source world.

Earlier this week, Ingres made an announcement that gives hope that it could emerge as a credible alternative to Oracle. The company revealed that Save Mart Supermarkets, one of the top supermarket chains in California, and Cowen Group, a New York investment bank, have chosen its technology over Oracle's. "This signals that people are confident enough in the alternative that Ingres provides that they'll move mission-critical systems to our platform," says Roger Burkhardt, Ingres' CEO and formerly the CIO at the New York Stock Exchange. He says he hopes to see a "snowballing of new adoption" now that the company has made public some of its significant wins.

Daniel Flax, CIO of Cowen Group, chose Ingres as the technology foundation for the company's new program trading portal. He said buying Ingres technology was about one third as expensive as buying from the traditional database makers, and, "from a technical perspective, it does what we want."

Ingres is still a tiny pebble in Oracle's shoe. It has been growing rapidly but still only logged $68 million in revenues last year--compared to Oracle's $27 billion. Ingres didn't even rate a mention during Oracle's quarterly teleconference for equity analysts yesterday. But if Burkhardt keeps trotting out new wins, at least corporations will know they have an open-source choice.

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