Canadian firms shy away from CA’s US$1M contest

Computer Associates may have trouble finding IT companies willing to fight for the up to US$1 million in prizes it is giving to open source developers.

The cash is being thrown at programmers to create migration tools for the new

open source version of its relational database.

Two Canadian Linux developers turned thumbs down on the contest, announced this week at LinuxWorld San Francisco.

It’s designed to generate interest in the Linux community in the open source version of CA’s Ingres r3 database. With migration tools customers might be encouraged to shift applications from better-known competitors such as Oracle, SQL Server and DB2.

The creator, not CA, keeps the intellectual property.

But despite the size of the prizes Matthew Rice, president of Starnix Inc. of Thornhill, Ont., a Linux IT consultancy, isn’t impressed. “”It seems they’re only interested in one-way tools”” for moving applications to Ingres, he said.

“”Unless it was a two-way street where people could come and go as they please the tools would be of limited value to me.””

“”It’s an interesting enticement,”” said Larry Karnis, president of Applications Enhancements of Brampton, Ont., a Linux consultancy. “”But I would argue it would entice people who would do this anyway.””

Most developers have to pay their bills, he observed. “”If we were to develop such a tool somebody would have to cover the cost of developing it. Then it has to be open source, and we’d have to win.””

At a news conference announcing the contest, Sam Greenblatt, CA’s senior vice-president and chief architect of its Linux technology group, said his company “”could have easily have funded”” the work.

“”We could have done this in-house,”” but “”this really helps us build the Ingres community.””

One factor which may help competitors is that for legal reasons, programmers in most of Europe have been excluded. Only those in the U.S, Canada – except Quebec residents – Mexico, India, the United Kingdom, China, Australia and New Zealand, are eligible.

There will be six prizes awarded at CAWorld in April by a jury to be announced, the majority of whom will come from the open source community. Detailed rules have also yet to be announced, but Greenblatt suggested the emphasis will be on the creation of tools that will enable an application to run against Ingres, not merely shift data from one database to another.

The biggest prize, US$400,000, will go to the creator of an Oracle migration tool. Other prizes (all figures in U.S. dollars) are $300,000 for a DB2 tool; $100,000 for a SQL Server solution; $75,000 each for Informix and Sybase tools and $50,000 for a MySQL tool.

Entrants have to register their solution on, an open source software development site, with a link to their solution. It will then be tested by CA and the judges. The competition closes Feb. 5, 2005.

“”It’s a great idea for them,”” said Rice, who also said the company is putting a “”bounty on people creating some tools they can use in sales with new clients. This would be a cheaper way of achieving that goal of doing it internally.””

But he also said it would benefit the winners.

“”It sounds like a great opportunity for some ambitious guys.””

CA’s r3 is available in beta now, and the final version will be released Sept. 30 on Linux, and on other platforms within months.

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer. Former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, Howard has written for several of ITWC's sister publications, including Before arriving at ITWC he served as a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times.

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