Ingres prepares for assault on Oracle's turf

Ingres prepares for assault on Oracle's turf

Summary: Ingres Chairman and CEO Terry Garnett looks at the estimated $18 billion spent on databases annually and sees a market ripe for disruption. In fact, he thinks Ingres can carve out 5- to 10-percent of that market, including a good chunk for Oracle's multibillion dollar enterprise database business.

TOPICS: Oracle

Ingres Chairman and CEO Terry Garnett looks at the estimated $18 billion spent on databases annually and sees a market ripe for disruption. In fact, he thinks Ingres can carve out 5- to 10-percent of that market, including a good chunk for Oracle's multibillion dollar enterprise database business. During the five-course dinner with journalists he hosted along with other Ingres executives last night at the tony Ritz Carleton in San Francisco, Garnett identified Oracle as "enemy number one."


How does Garnett plan to go after Oracle and create the big payday? He proclaimed that he has hired the best athletes and talent. "We will break a lot of rules and take risks because of our size and who we are," Garnett said.

Garnett's investment firm, Garnett & Helfrich Capital, hooked up with Ingres owner Computer Associates to open source the database software and form a new private company. Over the last several months, Garnett has been arming the company to compete against Oracle, IBM and Microsoft by hiring former Oracle, Veritas, IBM and Microsoft executives to run the company. This is not your lean and mean open source startup.

The most recent hire, chief architect Bill Maimone, is a 20 year Oracle veteran, most recently a vice president in Oracle’s Server Technologies division. I asked Maimone what motivated him to leave Oracle. "Oracle lost some of its focus--it looks like CA [when CA was acquiring dozens of company in the 1990's]," Maimone said. In his due diligence, he found Ingres to be a "pretty good product." The Ingres kernal group is about 30 people, he said, which was the same number as when he started at Oracle in 1986. "It's a different dynamic when you have 1000 people and six products and more meetings," he added.

Men of Ingres


From top left first row: Terry Garnett (Oracle); Tom Berquist (Citigroup, Goldman Sachs); Michael Coney (Veritas, Sun); Bill Maimone (Oracle). Second row: Jim Finn (Oracle, IBM); Dave Darko (Oracle); Anthony De Cicco (Veritas, Informix); Dev Mukherjee (Microsoft, IBM). 

ingresemma.jpgThe only top executive who came from the CA/Ingres side, and the lone woman, is Emma McGratton, senior vice president of engineering, who has been working on Ingres since 1994.

The Ingres team may have about 1000 man-years of Oracle experience, according to Garnett, but the 10,000 Ingres customers account for less that 1 percent share of the revenue pie. MySQL is also a well-capitalized open source database, but Ingres is more head to head with Oracle and IBM in the enterprise.

Garnett talks about having more palatable business practices than Oracle as a way to entice customers, but his first incursion into Oracle's territory is to make friends with Red Hat and BEA, which are predominantly shipped with Oracle. Given Larry Ellison's array of applications servers that compete with BEA and Red Hat's reliance on Oracle, Ingres sees an opportunity to step in as a pure database play. With Ingres 2006, the company is building  a separate stack "mute Oracle's hold" with those two major partners, Garnett said. Ingres also wants to take advantage of the disruption as Oracle shifts from its licensing model to subscription-based support services over the next few years. Garnett claims that Ingres' support contracts are one-third to one-half of what Oracle charges today. He also boasts of "knowing where all the bodies are buried customer by customer" as it relates to Oracle. For example, he said that one-third of all Oracle customers are still on Oracle 7, which came out in 1992 when Garnett worked at the company.

Ingres is also building a plug and play software appliance--a monolithic maintenance unit, according to CTO Dave Darko, and Maimone said his focus would be on integrating compliance into the database itself, which is what he said he would have been doing at Oracle if he hadn't left. 

In essense, Ingres wants to become the Red Hat of databases--an open source, subscription based solution that leverages its community (in this case companies like Bearing Point, Infosys and players who are now in the Oracle ecosystem who inform the direction of the code, not the open source community writ large) that dominates its market. Ellison is going to continue to buy up closed and open source companies to defend his perimeter and grow the customer list, but a precision strike by the well endowed Ingres team and undermining Oracle with Red Hat and BEA could force a kind of showdown. Just as Microsoft is scrambling to respond to Google's scale and momentum in the Web 2.0 arena, Oracle will have move faster to blunt the assault by many of its former employees...

Update: Tom Foremski also covers the Ingres dinner conversation...

Topic: Oracle

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  • I hope them the best but ...

    ... do not be surprised if within 3-5 years this same guy is announcing bankruptcy or firings, etc.
  • Go Ingres Go !!!

    I bow down to the King of Databases. The creator of MySql and Postgres. Go get em!! I am a big fan and hope to see you finally get to the top. BTW I installed Postgres on windows PC. Great Job I was so glad to hear it was ported to windows. Great Database.
    • Postgres is the replacement for ingres

      Postgres was started as a "new beginning" after Michael Stonebraker decided Ingress was too far gone to save, and started over with a clean slate.

      They share no code, but they do share a certain heritage.

      In my experience, PostgreSQL kicks the crap out of Ingres, but that could have just been what we were doing with it.
      • Postgres replaced Ingres, and then some

        I agree, Ingres is a step backward. Informix (which was Ingres) tried to commercialize Postgres as "Illustra Universal Server" but somehow blew the sales - disastrously. Postgres has an active community, and one set of extensions, called PostGIS, is a replacement for Oracle Spatial. See
        • Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

          Stonebreaker may have started Postgres after he left Ingres. He was wanting to create an Object Oriented Database. The Relational Model is not good for "bolting on" object oriented additions. Oracle tried, and failed. In fact, Ingres tried, but when they found out it didn't work as they would have wanted, they stopped destroying a very good relational database. Ingres DOES have the ability to add new data types and operators through it Object extension. It also has a spatial object library.

          Second WRONG! Ingres was NEVER Informix. They were 2 completely seperate companies. Informix did take over Postgres. It failed with trying to make a relational Database into an OO database. IBM finally took over Informix. Who knows what they have done with the database now?

          Third WRONG! Postgres was based on "University Ingres" - still downloadable PHD theses from the 1980's researching relational theory and search optimization. The relational language "QUEL" is arguable superior to SQL.
          The current version of Ingres "Ingres 2006" has NO code from "University Ingres". Its feature set is far superior to Postgres' and MySQL.

          Try it! You'll find it easy to use right out of the box, and also infinitely tunable.
          I am Gorby