Pick 'disadvantaged' by server-based pricing

As database vendors get to grips with new pricing models for the web application era, what has always been a strength of the Pick database turns out to be a financial handicap for Raining Data, the company which today owns Pick.

As database vendors get to grips with new pricing models for the web application era, what has always been a strength of the Pick database turns out to be a financial handicap for Raining Data, the company which today owns Pick.

California-based Raining Data head Rich Lauer, who was in New Zealand last week to launch a tool that finally adds a graphical interface to Pick (now called D3), says he’s not in any hurry to introduce server-based licensing, the direction Oracle, for example, has gone in.

“We’re still at a per-user licensing point but we all have to cope with web-based applications,” Lauer says.

D3, and other “multivalue” Pick-like databases, is renowned for its efficiency. According to Lauer, a server which might support 150 Oracle database users will support several times that many Pick users, hence server-based pricing is an unattractive option for Raining Data.

“We could have a single system supporting 1000 users, therefore our per-server pricing looks comparatively high.”

The licensing issue came up at a technical session during Lauer’s visit to Auckland, at which developers were keen to hear tips on how to write applications for the web in a way that minimises licensing costs. The discussion centred around “persistent” and “non-persistent” connections to a website which uses D3 code. Persistent connections, which might be necessary to allow a website visitor to complete an online form, for example, have different licensing implications from non-persistent connections.

Lauer, and representatives of Raining Data New Zealand distributor T Data, say developers need to weigh up licence cost savings against the additional effort of working around the persistent versus non-persistent connection issue. But Auckland developer Andrew Rowntree, the technical director of Total Computers, says Lauer exaggerates the difficulty of the workaround.

“Non-persistent connections are not as difficult to write as they make out,” says Rowntree, saying that it can be done using Microsoft SQL Server.

Lauer’s purpose in coming to New Zealand was to launch mv.Designer, a development tool for retrofitting a graphical interface to multivalue databases. It is based on Omnis Studio.

An application developer of Auckland financial services company Armstrong Jones, Graeme McGillivray says the mv.Designer demo showed that Raining Data is finally committed to providing good development tools for Pick developers. But the product left him with the impression that the link between mv.Designer and the Pick database still requires a lot more work.

“It’s a good starting point but I don’t have a need for it yet,” McGillivray says.

Raining Data’s next major release will be mv.Enterprise, which will “converge” D3 with other versions of the database which the company still supports.

Raining Data took up the Pick reins last December, when the former Pick Systems, which first developed the database, and tool maker Omnis Technology merged.

While Raining Data has taken over the legacy Pick business, IBM has about 80% of the multivalue database market, acquired when it bought Informix. Informix had acquired multivalue database makers Universe and Unidata.

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