IBMs rollout last week of a new version of the Informix Dynamic Server did much to ease the fears of Informix Corp. database users— many of whom had speculated that IBM would abandon the product after buying the company for $1 billion in April.
Informix users have said they are concerned that IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., would discontinue Informix products and force them to move to IBMs DB2 database.
The server, Version 9.3, met with cautious optimism from Informix users, partially because it was already being built when the acquisition happened. The users, who number in the thousands, said it gives them renewed confidence that IBM wont abandon them.
Kent McNall, president of Apropos Retail Management Systems Inc., said that with the release, hes more comfortable that IDS isnt going away. It couldnt easily be replaced by DB2 or Oracle Corp.s 9i, McNall said.
"IBM has been great to work with. We feel no heat or pressure whatsoever," said McNall, in Lynnwood, Wash. But because Apropos current and future products are database-agnostic, "to start with a brand-new database would not totally be starting from scratch, but it wouldnt be far from it," McNall said. However, he said he had more worries about Informixs survival as a separate company than he does about it under IBMs control.
"We expect to continue to deliver releases and enhancements for the foreseeable future, and thats as long as those customers require them," said Janet Perna, general manager of data management at IBM.
The primary new features of IDS are administration tools linked to the Internet, faster database replication, a more tightly integrated spatial analysis feature and a data link to DB2. The next major release of IDS will come in about a year, Perna said.
Pricing starts at $1,800 per user or $46,000 per CPU.
"We use Informix primarily for our [transaction] applications," said David Link, a database administrator for West Corp., a telemarketing company in Omaha, Neb. "As far as replication, its a drastic performance improvement. Weve seen about a three- fold improvement." IBMs technical support has been good, but the product could stand better metrics in its administration tool set, Link said.
Also last week, IBM unveiled content management software for DB2. "We really believe that enterprise content management is the next battleground in the data management area," IBMs Perna said. Examples of such content are images, invoices, rich media, audio, video, faxes and e-mail. The software will offer 25 percent faster searches and data loading compared with previous IBM content management tools, plus archiving to Microsoft Corp.s Exchange Server and various servers from FileNet Corp. Content Manager is due later this year for $15,000 per server and $1,200 per concurrent user.