Forced migration as apps support fades

Enterprises relying on Technology One’s Finance One application on Computer Associates’ soon-to-be open source Ingres will be forced into a shotgun migration project within 12 months following the company’s decision to kill support for the database.

Legal Aid Canberra’s IT director Sonya Davidson received a letter from Technology One in December stating that support for the Ingres-based product will be stopped as early as July 1 this year.

“The decision to drop Finance One for Ingres has been mooted for a couple of years and it was confirmed six months ago,” Davidson said. “I was being told support would be continued, but six months later [the company] sent me a letter [stating] that it was being discontinued. In December we were told that July 1 this year was the final date so I wrote back straight away telling them that it would be impossible for us to migrate off Ingres at such short notice.”

Davidson said she eventually received a notice that support will be extended for 12 months, leaving the commission and others running Finance One on Ingres with a forced database migration project.

“This [12 month deadline] gives us enough time to redevelop our application or migrate,” said Davidson, who has not decided which path the office will take.

Technology One’s decision comes at a time when Computer Associates grabbed the industry spotlight by announcing that it would open source Ingres.

“An open source Ingres makes us rethink our options,” Davidson said. “Although the licensing cost for Ingres is not that big a deal, it may encourage us to try redeveloping applications that work with Ingres to ‘modernise’ them.”

Davidson is drawn to the idea of the low barrier to entry for establishing a development team on an open source Ingres that could then be used as a testing platform for a commercial version.

The Canberra office is not alone as many of the nation’s Legal Aid offices have a history of Ingres use.

“There are a few departments in Canberra that have been affected by the decision,” she said. “A migration to Microsoft SQL Server has been successful for others. Oracle would be too expensive for us if we had to do the migration ourselves in Canberra but would be possible if a national deal was made.”

Davidson said Ingres is a “lovely database to deal with as it is very stable and goes wrong the least”.

Queensland’s Legal Aid office has already migrated its Finance One application from Ingres to Microsoft SQL Server, according to database administrator Terry Tan.

“We may not stick with Ingres and may move to another database when our Web front-end to it is developed,” Tan said.

Tan believes an open source Ingres is not likely to affect that decision because the organization is just using it on its backend system.

Technology One’s CEO Adrian Di Marco said its decision to discontinue Finance One for Ingres was “pragmatic” and “purely commercial”. “Ingres is no longer significant in the database space and it was hard to justify the development and support costs for just a few users,” Di Marco said. “We are dictated by industry trends and are the only vendor of a significant nature that still supports Ingres. For example, PeopleSoft and JD Edwards don’t support it.”

Di Marco said Technology One will offer its Ingres customers Finance One for an alternate database at no charge, to make the migration “as painless as possible”.

“We really like the product and it’s a great [database] platform,” he said. “If Ingres use proliferates [due to being open sourced by CA] then we will revisit this and we would support it.”

Computer Associates’ director of field marketing for information management, Andy Cooper, said an open source Ingres should spur ISVs into developing applications for the database.

“ISVs can use Ingres free of charge and now have one database that covers all the major platforms and this should increase,” Cooper said. “Within Australia a number of ISVs have developed for Ingres for a long time and with this new move we need to talk to clients.”

Cooper said he hopes that an open source Ingres will reverse Technology One’s decision to drop Finance One for Ingres and talking to the company “is on my long list of things to do”.

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