IBM's Informix swoop puzzles database resellers

IBM's Informix swoop puzzles database resellers

Big Blue's acquisition of Informix's database business for around US$1 billion has left some Informix developers in limbo, contemplating the future database platform their applications are to be based on. Meanwhile, as could be expected, Oracle has taken the opportunity to fire a few salvos across the bow of its biggest rival.

According to some Informix, partners the vendor has done little to garner a sense of loyalty over the years having acquired up to nine source codes for databases, and the fear appears to be what to do with applications built around products that they feel IBM may decide have now reached the end of the line.

Dionne Dumitru, managing director of Informix reseller Evolve 360, claims the acquisition confirms her suspicions that Informix was unlikely to continue with long term support of its UniData/UniVerse (U2) databases.

Evolve 360 is a developer of distribution and warehousing applications for small to medium business. Dumitru claims that because the database is embedded into the application for all of Informix's U2 products, Evolve 360 is faced with the daunting prospect of having to re-write everyone of its applications around another database.

"The time has come to find out what you're going to do," said Dumitru. "Every Informix VAR will be thinking about that [now] as a result of this."

Although Dumitru is expecting a quiet year from IBM as the vendor integrates Informix into its product line-up, IBM is touting "big growth" in all database markets.

Peter Graham, IBM's A/NZ country manager, data management, claims Big Blue is going to protect its Informix customers and channel with ongoing support of its existing products and routes to market.

"We intend to keep Informix channels as they are," assured Graham. "We're a big enough [company] to do that."

Meanwhile, Oracle plans using the acquisition to swoop on Informix customers, quickly ramping up awareness of a migration program for companies to switch to is database platforms.

Paul Marriott, business development manager for 9I at Oracle, claims the SafeSwitch program is designed to encourage existing Informix customers to use a very viable migration path to Oracle.

"IBM has presented us with an opportunity to take a customer who doesn't want to migrate to DB2. They are helping us, and we are responding to that opportunity," Marriott said.

Marriott claims the majority of Informix sites in Australia run off Sun Microsystems' platform so it would be difficult to consider using IBM's DB2, a statement IBM's Graham adamantly denies. He argues IBM's software business supports best-of-breed products regardless of the hardware manufacturer, and that Big Blue is eager to sell its databases on Hewlett-Packard or Sun boxes.

Oracle is hoping IBM will suffer with integration issues as it absorbs the Informix business and product lines.

"We've found in the past is that when you're acquiring other products, the integration problem is greater than the value you gain from acquiring the product," Marriott said. "This will be an integration nightmare."

"There is no synergy whatsoever between what IBM and Informix do. This is just a move to grab some market share," he added.

But IBM's Graham dismissed Oracle's SafeSwitch campaign with contempt. "From an Oracle perspective, they're just grasping at straws," Graham said.

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