Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Look Back in Ingres 2

[Updated]

In my earlier post Look Back in Ingres I discussed Mark Barrenechea, who moved from Oracle to Ingres via Computer Associates (CA). Ingres has been spun off from CA, and is now funded by Garnett & Helfrich.

The latest issue of Business Week (Sweet Revenge, January 22, 2007) has a lot more back-story about Terry Garnett himself. Garnett, a former senior vice president at Oracle, had sworn revenge on Larry Ellison after being fired. Hence the drive to recruit loads of ex-Oracle people.

Fake Steve Jobs is sarcastic: "Here's to you, Terry Garnett, O master of revenge! O skillful manipulator of the press!"

The popular press (and joke websites) like to depict this kind of corporate battle in personal terms, and there may well be an element of truth in this case. But this is not just a battle between two individuals.

The Business Week story describes Ingres as a startup, but this is misleading. Although its corporate vehicle has been reconstituted, Ingres itself has a long history of rivalry with Oracle. Indeed, they started at around the same time with almost identical names. Oracle (founded 1977) was once Relational Software Inc; Ingres (founded 1980) was originally Relational Technology Inc. Ingres was less commercially successful than Oracle, and was acquired by Computer Associates in 1994.

So there is an element of corporate revenge here as well. Is the new Ingres likely to do serious damage to the old Oracle? I somehow doubt it; the old Oracle faces many challenges, but Ingres probably isn't the biggest threat at present.

The Ambassadors of Agamemnon Visiting Achilles - 1801 - Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris
The Ambassadors of Agamemnon Visiting Achilles 1801. (By the painter Ingres of course.) Achilles sulked a lot, because he didn't get the rewards he thought he deserved. He'd have gone down a treat in Silicon Valley.

Wikipedia: Ingres (database), Ingres (painter), Oracle (database company)
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