Ingres has a long and significant history in the DBMS world. It was developed at UC Berkeley between 1977 and 1985 (and is an ancestor of PosgreSQL which also originated at UC Berkeley). It became a somewhat successful commercial product, and was then acquired in 1990 for $110 million by Sandra Kurtzig’s ASK Computer Systems. ASK went through some rough times, and was then acquired by Computer Associates (a company with the dubious distinction of killing more acquired products than most companies will ever get to acquire) in 1994, and Ingres was rebranded as CA-OpenIngres. And then not much happened with it. Once upon a time the big DB players were Oracle, Informix, Sybase, and Ingres. Oracle is obviously still a major player. Informix (now owned by IBM) and Sybase are decidedly less significant (although Microsoft SQL Server, a Sybase offshoot, is doing very well). And Ingres has been all but forgotten by most.
So, why this trip down memory lane? Last week, at CA World in Las Vegas, Computer Associates announced plans to release Ingres to the open source community under a new licensing scheme. (See http://www.infoworld.com/article/04/05/28/HNcaingres_1.html, http://www.theinquirer.net/?article=16222, and more). This is making some users happy, they’ve long felt badly neglected by CA.
But, being the cynic that I am, I must ask the obvious question. Is this actually a workable long time strategy for Ingres, or a last ditch attempt to save face? Not that I think that CA had many other alternatives, but doesn’t this seem akin to rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic?