December 14, 2000 11:15 AM PST

Open-source database companies open shop

Great Bridge, a start-up hoping its open-source database software will encroach on Oracle the way Red Hat has nibbled at Microsoft, is now open for business.

Great Bridge, based in Norfolk, Va., announced its presence in May, but now has services and its first customer, Web and e-commerce site designer Great Bridge has packaged the PostgreSQL database software with easy-to-use installation software and extensive documentation, said Dave Mele, vice president of marketing.

Although the company will give the software away, it will charge $9,995 a year for a standard technical support and service plan and $49,995 for the premium plan. Services include planning and development of databases as well as integration with existing software and ongoing support.

"We do not want to be considered a box company," Mele said. Selling boxed software products "is not part of our revenue strategy."

The PostgreSQL software already is an open-source project, meaning programmers are free to scrutinize, change and redistribute the software. Three of the six core PostgreSQL programmers are Great Bridge employees, and 14 other PostgreSQL developers are on an advisory board for the company.

The company has 38 employees now, up from about 10 in May, Mele said. The company hopes to reach 100 employees by the end of March 2001.

Great Bridge hopes eventually to reproduce the success Red Hat has had in establishing a foothold against operating system competitors such as Sun Microsystems and Microsoft. Though Great Bridge's database software competes with that from bigger fish such as Sybase, Oracle, IBM, Informix and Microsoft, the more likely competitors for now are smaller companies such as AbriaSoft.

AbriaSoft, based in Fremont, Calif., also offers packaged database software and services. NuSphere, a subsidiary of Progress Software in a Bedford, Mass., also is selling MySQL products and services.

NuSphere began offering basic support service Wednesday for $299 a year. Round-the-clock support is priced according to how the software is being used, the company said.

Progress Software also is trying to draw the interest of open-source programmers by releasing programming tools at a new site called, the company said. Open-source hosting and consulting company CollabNet is housing the site.


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