The price will be right, says Ingres’ new president

Relational database 'oligopoly' questioned

Roger Burkhardt, Ingres’ recently-appointed president and chief operating officer, spoke with Computerworld US about his plans for the open-source database vendor and why he left the New York Stock Exchange, where he was CTO.

Why did you join Ingres?

I was actually contemplating another CIO role at a large enterprise looking to make a big technology change. This opportunity came out of the blue. It took a lot to pull me off that course. But I found what Ingres is doing very exciting.

What is your background in open-source technology?

At the NYSE, we had some extreme needs in terms of performance and availability. We often needed to have something special done. In the closed-source world, the biggest obstacles [to doing that] were the lawyers. What we could freely do with open-source products was very compelling.

Most analysts think that Ingres is ahead of other open-source databases like MySQL on functionality but lags behind Oracle, DB2, Sybase and even SQL Server. It’s fair to say that we don’t have bleeding-edge features. But it’s also true that there is a very large set of users who are paying through the nose for support from Oracle on products that are ten to 12 years old.

New applications generally don’t demand bleeding-edge functionality.

A lot of times, people would rather run a standard ODBC interface and put all of the stored procedures in the application server [instead of the database].

But why would a CIO seeking to reduce IT complexity consider adding another database, such as Ingres, to the mix?

Because of our massive cost advantage. An Ingres solution is half to a third of the [prices charged by the] relational database oligopoly. Also, enterprise customers are uncomfortable with the level of power that some vendors have over their environments.

Finally, I think there is much less concern, especially on the database side, about heterogeneity. The tools have improved, and things are self-managing. All enterprises of a significant size have to deal with this issue anyway.

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