Informix Server Update Quells Users Fears

By rolling out a new version of the Informix Dynamic Server, IBM eases concerns by Informix Software users that Big Blue would abandon them after buying the company.

IBM Monday rolled out a new version of the Informix Dynamic Server, which should help ease some of the fears of Informix Software database users that Big Blue would abandon them after buying the company for $1 billion in April.

Users have been concerned that IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., would discontinue Informixs product line and force them into moving to IBMs own DB2 database.

The new server, Version 9.3, met with cautious optimism from Informix users, partially because it was already being built when the acquisition happened six months ago. But those users, who number in the thousands, also 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 the Informix Dynamic Server isnt going away. It couldnt easily be replaced by DB2 or Oracle Corp.s 9i, he 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, either."

However, McNall said he had more worries about Informixs survival with it 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, IBM general manager of data management.

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. Also Monday, IBM announced new content management software for DB2.

"We really believe that enterprise content management is the next battleground in the data management area," 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 server from FileNET Corp.

Content Manager will be available later this year, and will cost $15,000 per server and $1,200 per concurrent user.