IBM: Informix database alive and kicking

IBM: Informix database alive and kicking

IBM released an upgraded version of its Informix database server, promising to give global data centers "mainframe-like continuous availability and disaster recovery capabilities."

Informix Dynamic Server (IDS) 11, which had been released in a public beta program earlier this year under the code name "Cheetah," borrows technology from IBM mainframe systems to enhance information management for cluster server environments. IBM says in a press release that this feature allows continuous data availability and disaster recovery, "regardless of the geographic location or distance between backup datacentre sites." General availability begins July 6.

IBM purchased Informix's database business in 2001 and at one point appeared ready to migrate both Informix customers and technology over to IBM's DB2 servers, according to Illuminata senior analyst Wayne Kernochan. But today's Informix release is a significant upgrade and signals that IBM is now committed to treating Informix as a separate product line worthy of enhancements, Kernochan says.

"With IDS 11 they're effectively saying 'we're going to continue developing the product and adding technologies moving forward," he says. "This says to me the Informix install base and separate technology stack are more valuable to IBM than they originally thought. ... It's good news for Informix customers."

Users of IDS 11 include Worldwinner, which operates massively multiplayer online games and uses IDS to manage the games, track information about players, and authenticate identification and billing information, IBM says.

Kernochan describes the upgrades as a long list of minor improvements that together add up to a major release. While IBM is stressing continuous availability and disaster recovery, the analyst says that's not necessarily what will attract new customers. Instead, new customers will likely be interested in how IBM improved the ability to perform massive queries, he says.

There have been fewer major releases of Informix technology since the IBM acquisition, but major releases have also been infrequent for Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle Database, Kernochan claims.

"In the Transaction Processing Performance Council benchmarks, effectively IBM and Oracle have been leapfrogging each other for the last few years," he says. "Microsoft has tended to focus on smaller-scale applications and price performance rather than performance but it's at least within shouting distance."

The IDS 11 Express Edition, geared toward small and medium-sized businesses, costs US$5025 per dual-core processor, or $130 per user with a minimum of five users. An Enterprise Edition costs $51,500 per dual-core processor, or $965 per user. A third edition geared toward workgroup computing costs $10,300 per processor or $361 per user.

Additional improvements include extended support for service oriented architecture application development, collaboration and integration; built-in functions for XML publishing; and enhanced support for hierarchical data structures.

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