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Computer Associates' Open Source guru speaks out

Interview: Part One CA's Barrenechea meets the INQ
Mon Jul 26 2004, 09:26
BACK IN MAY, when Computer Associates announced their intention of releasing the source code of their Ingres database, we reported the news, but I also got curious as to who was the man behind CA's open source efforts.

Several weeks later, Mark Barrenechea, the ex-Oracle exec behind this move, agreed to reply to my questions. And since then, he's been promoted to replace Tony Gaughan as senior vice president of development at the company. So here's your chance to get a glimpse inside the mind of who seems to be CA's "Open Source crusader". We thank Mr. Barrenechea for the chance of this exclusive interview with The INQ.

For your convenience, this rather long interview has been split in two parts.

alt='barra' INQ: First question: what was your job at your former employer, Oracle?
M.B.: I was Senior Vice President, Applications Development, a member of the executive management team and reported directly to Larry Ellison.

INQ: And what is your position now at CA? And what -if anything- do you find more exciting, about working for Computer Associates.
M.B.: As executive vice president of product development, I oversee the majority of CA's research and development activities and am responsible for ensuring customer-focused innovation across the company's brand units. CA software provides value to 80% of the Fortune 2000. Every day, we manage over one billion transactions around the globe. What could be more fun than that?

INQ: (Let me turn off this "feel-good marketingspeak" detector, it's killing my ears). Back when you were at Oracle, did you think about CA as a strong competitor worth watching, or was Ellison's company more focused on the usual "database enemies" like Microsoft and IBM?
M.B.: I think as in any great company, you strive to be number one. CA is number one in management software. The two companies share a common focus of being the best they can be in their relevant markets.

INQ: (Still astonished by the excellent maneuvering around my previous question ;).
What made CA open source the Ingres database?, and what was your role on this decision?
M.B.: Ingres is a fantastic technology. Open innovation has been blocked above the operating system. By open sourcing Ingres, we will create the next generation of database and application innovation. We have over 25,000 Ingres customers, and the customers that I have spoken with are delighted with CA's decision to open source Ingres.

INQ: Which Open Source license is CA is going to use for Ingres?
M.B.: CA created the CA Trusted Open Source License (CA-TOSL), a derivative of the common public license that will be available from opesource.org. CA-TOSL is intended to sustain and promote the collaborative open source development of the code base, while maximizing the code's ability to be used and integrated with software licensed under other licenses, including many commercial licenses. Most Importantly, CIOs are looking for trust and indemnification -- CA-TOSL provides both.

INQ: Did you consider using the GPL and / or LGPL licenses from the Free Software Foundation?. If not, why not?
M.B.: After discussions with Bruce Perens of OSI (*1), we chose the common public license and extended it to best meet the needs of users. Again, when moving commercial software with a large existing install-base into the open source community, I think that most companies would create a derivative license that best suits the market's needs. And for us, it comes back to trust and indemnification.

INQ: Did anyone at CA approach the Free Software Foundation, or where you approached by them?
M.B.: Some folks within CA spoke with Bradley Kuhn, and I understand that he applauded the effort. Whereas I disagree with the FSF's views on licensing, I support their efforts in fostering open innovation.

Why exactly would anybody choose CA's Ingres over the many "established" open source databases like MySQL, msql, postgresql, maxDB, and the like? In other words, what are the main selling points for Ingres, feature-wise?
M.B.: It's simple. Ingres is an enterprise-class database with world class features and support. Here are few examples: support for views, fail over, high volume transactions, temporary tables and all the performance you'd expect. And, it is accompanied by "24 by 7" global support.

INQ: Would you like to see the soon-open-source Ingres database eventually being bundled with major linux distributions?
M.B.: LAMP (*2) is a strong alliance. As Linux grows into the enterprise, we see iJPL emerging (Ingres, Java/JBoss, Python, Linux). There are clearly opportunities for adoption of iJPL within the industry.

INQ: (Turning off my acronym/buzzword alarm) Was it easy to sell your open source idea to CA's management?. (As an outsider coming into CA, was your job easier or harder than you thought?)
M.B.: I think high-tech companies are unique. When you have a great idea, and the team knows it's right, it's relatively easy to align sixteen thousand people behind it. Open-sourcing Ingres is right. µ

Read the rest of the interview in an upcoming article

Footnotes
(*1) Despite this claim by Mr. Barrenechea, my understanding is that while Bruce Perens was a founder of OSI, he's no longer part of the board, having resigned from his post five years ago.

Bruce Perens confirmed by e-mail: "I am no longer on the board of OSI. I am currently consulting for CA, and helping them get a new license through the license-approval process with OSI. The license they have is derived from several licenses already approved by OSI. In my opinion it is compliant with the Open Source Definition and will be accepted"

(*2) LAMP: an acronym used to refer to "Linux, Apache, mySQL, and PHP" as a suite of products to run interactive web sites and web services on linux.

 

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