Monday, September 26, 2011

Ingres is now Actian

Over the weekend I read that Ingres Corporation has renamed itself, and is now Actian, Inc.. I confess that I haven't paid a lot of attention to Ingres Corporation in a few years, so I spent a bit of time reading some of the coverage.

From what I can tell, this is most about company names, and branding/positioning. The Ingres team would like to be considered a player in the modern DBMS markets, such as "cloud computing" and "big data". They felt that the old "Ingres" name was holding them back, and decided to rename the company.

This is the sort of thing that marketing departments at software companies do.

In fact, even when I was at the company, this was going on:

  • When I joined in 1988, I joined Relational Technology, Inc. (RTI)
  • Later, RTI renamed itself to Ingres Corporation to emphasize the tight link between the company and the product
  • Later, following a merger, we became known as ASK, Inc., which was an acronym standing for Ari and Sandra Kurtzig, the couple that founded the company we merged with.
  • Then in 1994, after I left, the company became an un-named subdivision of Computer Associates

Given my own experience, I would say that renaming your company is not an effective solution to problems of market positioning. But I'm not a marketer, and not really qualified to comment. If it's part of an overall plan to revise product features, target modern usage patterns, and adopt a company vision that they believe in, then hopefully it will work for them.

I wonder what the Ingres code looks like nowadays? When it was open-sourced, about 4-5 years ago, I downloaded a copy and looked through it. The overall structure was similar to what I remembered, although the details had changed, as well they might since it was (by then) more than a decade since I had worked on the code.

It's interesting that the company and product continue to live on; best of luck, Ingres / Actian!

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