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Thursday, May 19, 2005

Strategic use of open source against competition

Earlier today, I read two different announcements that are interconnected in a way.

The first one is from CA announcing the winners of the Ingres million dollar challenge. I don’t really care about the challenge or the winners; I am more interested in what CA is trying to accomplish. They are effectively funding tools that migrate just about anything to their open source database Ingres. It is no surprise that the #1 prize went to a team who developed an Oracle to Ingres tool and the second prize goes to a Microsoft SQL Server-to-Ingres tool. The third one is a bit more interesting (competition within OSS), it migrates MySQL users to Ingres. More details on the results can be found here.

The second announcement is another migration story. This one comes from IBM teaming up with Red Hat to hurt more threatening competitors (Sun and HP). IBM and Red Hat are launching a bunch of Solaris-to-Linux Migration Initiatives including free assessment services provided by IBM as well as educational materials to help customers migrate. This isn't a new initiative at IBM. Three thousand of their 12,000 Linux customers come from Solaris. IBM has completed more than 500 HP/UX and Solaris-to-AIX customer migration engagements since early 2004.

IBM wants to sell hardware and services; they need to go after HP and Sun to make some room for their profitable eServers. Linux (open source in general) is a great weapon in IBM's arsenal, they have been using it knowledgeably for years (especially against Microsoft/Windows). CA does not necessarily want to make money in the database business but CA's competitors certainly do. Even if CA's migration tools cannot claim as many success stories as IBM's Solaris-to-Linux (or HP/UX-to-Linux); migrating as many Oracle (IBM or Microsoft) customers to Ingres is a good strategy. It doesn't hurt to give it a try.

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