I used to work for Ingres (in London) who were a fantastic company to work for. Amazingly, they are the only company I have ever worked for to use newsgroups for internal technical discussions and knowledge sharing instead of email aliases. I once read that processing an individual email costs a company 10 cents.

In the early 90’s, Ingres was under commercial pressue from another large relational database vendor, Oracle. Instead of responding to this challenge, Ingres tended to ‘fiddle while Rome burned’, discuss the API naming convention by committee and stoutly defend the technical purity of page level locking (Oracle supported row level locking and capitalised heavily) from a lofty ivory tower.

Eventually, Computer Associates took over Ingres which most staff viewed as the end of the world. The truth was that CA saved Ingres from Chapter 11 (bankruptcy).

Although I had never visited Alameda and Islandia (Ingres’ and CA’s respective corporate headquarters), I still have this vision of hard nosed businessmen in sharp suits invading the Alameda campus to interview all these bearded techies in sandals.

On the day of the takeover, Oracle parked a truck outside Ingres’ UK offices with a billboard ‘Oracle are hiring now’. The story got a lot of coverage in the UK computer press. Once again, superb marketing from Oracle.

The Ingres engineers left the company in droves, formed self-help groups and arranged annual wakes to commemorate the anniversary of the black day.

CA subsequently rebranded the product OpenIngres but it largely disappeared from view into CA’s vast portfolio of thousands of different software products.

So, it was nice to see Ingres back in the news this week as CA announced that Ingres Corporation will be once again be a separate company and the product will be available as an Open Source database.