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User gets 'staggering' results from CA's open source database

Jack Loftus, News Writer

"Whoa."

No, this is not some flashback to the hit movie The Matrix. It's what Shaf Rahman, group technical director of U.K.-based ICLP Loyalty, said after his company migrated its Computer Associates' Ingres II relational database management system to a beta version of CA's Ingres r3 for Linux this year.

Rahman said his company, an international marketing services agency, was having performance issues with its Unix system in late 2003 and early 2004, and decided to move to a Linux alternative from Islandia, N.Y.-based Computer Associates International Inc.

ICLP was already using Ingres II, so when Rahman began looking for alternatives, he said his company was happy enough with Ingres to go with another CA alternative. That alternative was Ingres 2.6 for Linux, the beta version of what would later be released as Ingres r3 for Linux in August 2004.

Rahman said internal needs had grown within his company since they implemented Ingres II, and talk increased about looking for the best of both worlds: a low-cost option that could increase performance.

"We really needed to increase performance while not moving from the chip platform we had established. We basically wanted to see if we could get more power out of the box [we already had]." Rahman said.

ICLP began its transition by embarking on a "Linux evaluation course" to experiment with the open source operating system, Rahman explained.

Its initial findings

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discovered that by switching to the new release of Ingres 2.6 and an open source operating system, the company could squeeze as much as 3.5 times the performance out of the same applications.

Rahman said the entire implementation consisted of a simple "load and reload" of the new system, and he soon realized it was "one of the most painless migrations they had ever did" at ICLP. He added there was a distinct lack of challenges when making the switch from Ingres II to 2.6 and eventually to Ingres r3 for Linux, which was refreshing.

"For some reason over the last 10 years, the biggest pain was the whole installation process of Ingres. There were so many parameters, and you almost needed to understand the product at the deepest level before even running it," Rahman said. "Someone evaluating it [during that period] may have said it was too difficult, but now it's like 'click, click, click' and it starts up."

Why open source?

Rahman said open source has given his company more affordable computing. "If you have application support and you can reduce support costs, then you can afford to run more systems," he said. "For us, there are very few support calls to Ingres, and if we do, it's like 'hello, we've done everything.'"

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Learn more about the success of the Ingres open source database.

Because the Ingres database has been released to the open source community under the CA Trusted Open Source License, Rahman said third parties will do their part to ensure that the system will continue to be a more rounded product. He added that he will continue to look to the open source community in coming months for further contributions.

"Those companies migrating from Ingres II to Ingres r3 are going to have a big shock, it runs like a rocket," Rahman said. "We'll be saying, 'sorry, we've already had the euphoria on 2.6.'"

What's next?

Rahman said the next steps for his organization will continue to involve Linux and open source.

"For us we're going to Red Hat Linux and already looking at putting applications on a lower class server to run the same applications. To me that's affordable computing -- you see application running more powerfully but not on a bigger box."

Rahman is currently putting more memory into the system to capitalize on how Red Hat will use memory as part of a "very low-cost, high-return road map." Future plans also include the conversion of all Ingres 2 components to Ingres 2.6, and then a full conversion to Red Hat 3 and Ingres r3 for Linux.


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