As featured in Computergram International

Inprise Corp opened up the source code of its Interbase database on Friday and told ComputerWire that it will spin off the division, InterBase Software Corp, within the next two weeks. InterBase hopes that the move will re-ignite sales of Interbase 6.0, which have been stalling in the US, according to its new president Ann Harrison.

The plan is to shift InterBase Software into the Linux open source arena to cash in on the sense of community and also to boost the number of developers associated with the database from around 10,000 to 15,000 into the millions said Harrison. For too long, she said, the firm has been invisible, hidden deep inside Inprise.

InterBase will distribute its databases for free, and then make money through support revenues, bundling the code with tools and documentation in a CD and through selling franchises worldwide. Although Interbase is stagnating in the US, European sales are growing. Harrison claimed that the InterBase has the biggest penetration of any relational database in Russia, even if piracy stops it deriving full financial reward for that.

The company never grew to be a force and Harrison blamed two factors. She said that the founders of Scotts Valley, California - based Inprise never took venture funding, fearing the risks involved. She said it also made some partnerships which turned sour instead of giving Inprise credibility, notably Ashton Tate.

By linking the database with the millions of developers in the open source sector, InterBase hopes to give the company a bigger name. Traditionally, said Harrison, potential customers would turn it down, not on technical grounds, but because they feared the company might not survive. With millions of developers in tow, even if the company gets acquired or disappears, the code and the evolution of the product will continue.

Inprise has been talking about moving towards open source for some time. It announced its intentions for Interbase 6.0 in January and set up an R&D initiative with Corel Corp to drive the adoption of Linux as long ago as September last year .

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