Open-source database vendor Ingres has launched its database and Linux combination, Icebreaker aimed at simplifying user support costs.

Icebreaker is a tight coupling of the Ingres 2006 database with rPath's Linux distribution. The software includes only those components of rPath Linux needed to run the database, around 15 percent to 20 percent of the operating system, according to Emma McGrattan, senior vice president of engineering at Ingres.

The aim of the offering is to make it easier to install and manage the database and Linux combination as well as substantially cut maintenance and support costs, she said. Ingres will deliver patches and updates for both the database and OS in a single maintenance stream. Icebreaker includes support for virtualisation technologies from the likes of VMware and XenSource, McGrattan added.

"Icebreaker will take us into new markets and new use of the [Ingres] database," McGrattan said. In its first year as an independent company, Ingres focused on its existing customer base and ensuring their needs were being met, but the vendor's now ready to aggressively go after new business opportunities.

Ingres is hoping that third parties will want to build applications on top of Icebreaker. Initially, those efforts will be around business intelligence (BI) and live reporting, McGrattan said, with the vendor in discussions with both open-source and closed-source BI players.

As for other areas where Icebreaker might fit, McGrattan sees the combination as useful for companies moving to the SOA (service-oriented architecture) development model as well as in the on-demand market. "We think Icebreaker is also the perfect platform for SaaS [software-as-a-service] vendors," she said. At present, Ingres has no specific partners to name in that area. A natural ally could be Inc. since Ingres uses the vendor's hosted CRM (customer relationship management) internally.

Ingres plans to build out a series of other appliances on top of Icebreaker, McGrattan said, with details to come later this year.

A previous attempt in the industry to launch a database appliance, Oracle's Raw Iron project, sunk without a trace after a trumpeted November 2000 launch at the Comdex computer show where the database vendor touted a partnership with hardware vendor Compaq. The operating system for Raw Iron was a mixture of Linux and Sun's Solaris Unix OS.

By contrast, Ingres is positioning Icebreaker as unfettered to any particular hardware, leaving the choice of server up to the user, McGrattan said. Licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL) version 2, Icebreaker runs on any x86-compatible Linux server. Over time, it's possible Icebreaker may be offered pre-installed on specific servers, but Ingres isn't currently in talks with any hardware providers, she added.

Icebreaker is available free under the GPL or users can purchase a maintenance and support subscription for the combination at the same price as paid maintenance and support for the Ingres 2006 database, McGrattan said.