The formation of Ascential Software, the applications split-off from Informix, marks an effective return to the position of two years ago, before Informix took over Ardent Software, says Ascential’s US-based director of marketing for enterprise applications, Mark Talbot.
The split will allow the applications side – specialising in extract, transform and load (ETL) software and business information tools – to become once more “open”, as able to market itself in association with other database products as with Informix's, he says.
But this won’t see an end to close alliances between Ascential and other big software players. The announcement of such an alliance for Ascential is understood to be due to be made this week, but Talbot invoked a non-disclosure agreement last week, declining to talk about the move on the record.
While seeking to deal on a broad front with the major database providers, Ascential is at the same time conscious of the value of collaborative marketing arrangements on other fronts, Talbot says, even though these may shut the company out of dealing with a partner’s rivals.
Talbot is himself a former executive of data warehousing specialist Ardent. The vision at the time of the takeover was to provide a cohesive suite of products that would assist customer companies to assume a role in the e-commerce space, he says. This was branded last year as “Informix Software, the Way to Web”.
The move was influenced by Oracle’s takeover of ETL specialist Carleton.
“The idea was correct at the time,” says Talbot, “but the planning and marketing were not good enough.”
The market perceived the Ardent products as too aligned with Informix. “The sales of [flagship ETL product] Datastage were hurt last year by Informix’s presence.”
The companies are now almost entirely split out again, with most of the Ardent alumni going to the Ascential side, though some have crossed over from applications to database and vice versa. The companies are headquartered on opposite sides of the US; Ascential in Massachusetts and Informix in California.
There is almost no direct competition in the ETL market for Ascential in New Zealand, says local business development manager Brent Francis. “It’s a choice between Datastage and building it yourself.” In a way this is a disadvantage, because customer awareness and a willingness to change is not stirred up by obvious hot competition, “as it is, for example in the telecomms industry” – Francis previously worked for Telstra. “So we need to make more effort to go out and find customers.”