Ingres: We’re Gaining From The MySQL Meltdown

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Customers are turning from MySQL to Ingres in the face of Oracle, says Ingres CEO Roger Burkhardt. And he’s not impressed with the UK government’s flaccid open source policy

Yesterday, in Part 1 of this interview, Ingres CEO Roger Burkhardt explained the open source business case.

Today, he has some more sobering judgements to give. First, the UK government comes in for criticism for its weak open source record. And then he addresses Ingres’ open source database rival MySQL: just what sort of future will it have at Oracle.

Open source in the UK: could do a lot better

Burkhardt agrees with recent speakers, that the open source model hasn’t gone down so well in the UK, says Burkhardt: “Leadership in the UK is not so proactive.”

Although the government has a policy to support open source, with which it hopes to save £600 million, he doesn’t see much real change following from it. “It’s a nice policy, but what is the execution? It’s only meaningful if people act on it.”

Public sector bodies – like major companies – all too often hesitate to take on and break the vendors’ lock-in, he says. “People still take the easy option, but if the whole company has shrunk by ten percent, why do you still write a multi-million dollar support cheque?”

So though there are systems integrators (we can’t name them) who are on the verge of large deals with the UK government, the big deals he can point to tend to be US companies such as investment bank Cowen Group in New York. “It is growing rapidly [a turnover of $68 million, says Burkhardt], and every million dollars we get comes out of the proprietary world.”

Proprietary companies can apply a lot of pressure with their marketing budget, he says: “Look at Oracle’s results. They have 90 percent gross margins – and they will fight to keep them. Where leadership is required, is to follow through on policies and resist pressure from vendors.” And in the public sector, public pressure can help, he suggests, if taxpayers demand that money is spent on jobs, not on big vendors’ support cheques.

Ingres and MySQL – Open Source Rivals?

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Despite Ingres’s scale, there’s no doubt that there’s a better-known open source database: MySQL. It grew fast, was adopted by some high-profile users, and the company that developed, MySQL AB, was acquired by Sun Microsystems in 2008, for $1 billion.

Sun’s subsequent – proposed – purchase by Ingres’ rival Oracle looks bad for MySQL, says Burkhardt. In fact, the deal looks bad all round: “Oracle needs to keep acquiring companies to meet its financial engineering model,” he said. A year ago, Oracle bought software company BEA, and it’s bought a string of other companies before that, he said: “It ran out of software companies and had to buy Sun.”

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