Ingres has become one of the hottest and most interesting companies in Silicon Valley. After its spin-off from Computer Associates in November to Garnett & Helfrich Capital, it has been assembling one of the top executive teams in the industry. And one with extensive experience at Oracle and other top companies.
Dave Dargo, senior VP and CTO came from Oracle and is a respected authority on Linux; Dev Mukherjee, CMO, came from Microsoft and IBM and is credited with key thought leadership in establishing utility computing and software as a service. In recent weeks, Jim Finn, who led Oracle's corporate comms for many years and is credited with managing the tricky acquisition strategy and was recently head of IBM Americas; Tom Berquist, a former star Wall Street analyst is CFO; and earlier this week Bill Maimone joined as Chief Architect, he had lead database development at Oracle.
Terry Garnett, CEO of Ingres, also used to work at Oracle as senior vp of worldwide marketing, and he says Ingres collectively has about 1,000 man years of experience at Oracle. And there are many other notable names on the executive roster.
Ingres starts life by offering an open-source relational database that is enterprise-ready. And the business opportunity is in targeting the unhappiness among Oracle customers who resent the high license and maintenance fees.
"I think we can carve-off five to ten per cent of the enterprise database market, which is $16bn. And if we can do that, I don't see why we couldn't get to ten to twenty per cent of the market," says Tom Berquist, CFO.
"Oracle customers hate the high license and maintenance fees. There is an opportunity to come in at one-half to one-third of Oracle's fees," says Mr Garnett.
The enterprise IT market is also switching to a services pricing model, annual fees instead of licenses. Oracle faces a stressful transition to the new model which could take two years to complete, Ingres doesn't have that legacy issue, making it attractive to enterprise customers.
But to really compete with Oracle Ingres must offer more than just the database component, especially since Oracle, Sun Microsystems, and IBM already have large stacks of their own. The question is how will Ingres create its enterprise stack--will it do it with partnerships or through mergers?
There are many natural partners for Ingres, such as SAP, BEA Systems, Red Hat, Symantec, and others. The key will be to make sure that it owns the IP underpinning the stack. MySQL for example, ran into a problem recently when Oracle acquired companies that own the transactional database engines MYSQL was using. MySQL must now develop a replacement which could delay its enterprise ambitions.
Suddenly, enterprise software has become very interesting and Oracle is facing a potential competitor that knows it very intimately, (and knows where the bodies are buried :-)
Please also see Dan Farber: Ingres prepares for assault on Oracle's turf