Informix gets set to embrace Linux

Informix Software is expected to detail a Linux support plan for its database in an announcement at the Informix Worldwide User Conference in Seattle this week. The company also will announce Dynamic 4GL, a tool for putting Windows interfaces on existing Informix fourth-generation language applications. A partnership with Sun Microsystems in the online transaction processing space will be detailed, as will partnerships in data warehousing.

Informix Software is expected to detail a Linux support plan for its database in an announcement at the Informix Worldwide User Conference in Seattle this week.

The company also will announce Dynamic 4GL, a tool for putting Windows interfaces on existing Informix fourth-generation language applications.

A partnership with Sun Microsystems in the online transaction processing space will be detailed, as will partnerships in data warehousing.

By supporting Linux, Informix will be breaking from other big-name Unix database companies, such as Oracle, Sybase, and IBM, which have not announced plans to run their databases on Linux.

Devotees of Linux have argued that these companies need to be more proactive in support.

One Linux developer is pleased with Informix' plans.

"Just having one of those big [databases] on Linux would help a lot," says Lachlan Dunlop, president of development company LCS, in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Linux is suitable for deploying mission-critical applications, Dunlop stresses.

"If NT qualifies, Linux is more than qualified," Dunlop says.

Informix's move raises some questions, one analyst says.

"I'm sure it'll have some appeal for Informix," said Merv Adrian, vice president of the Giga Information Group, in Santa Clara, California. "I don't know how big a commercial impact it's going to have."

Although Informix's database technology may be a good fit for Linux's highly technical followers, there are concerns about the level of customer support and human resources available to support mission-critical applications on Linux, Adrian said.

Informix archrival Oracle has a Linux-supportive database running in its labs. But Informix is set to jump ahead of its rival by actually detailing commercial plans. Informix will not be first, however, because Computer Associates, Software AG, and Interbase endorse Linux for their databases.

Informix has suffered financially in the past year, but one Unix user says Informix has been revitalised recently, especially since new executives have come onboard.

"Gone is the arrogance, the self-centeredness and isolationism that used to pervade the executive suite," says Carlton Doe, information service database administrator at Associated Food Stores, in Salt Lake City, who also serves on the International Informix Users Group board of directors.

But Informix is still facing disinterest in the marketplace. Citing lack of demand, ISV Mortice Kern Systems has tabled plans to produce a Web content datablade, or data-management extension, for the Informix Dynamic Server database.

A key weapon in Informix's arsenal has been object-relational technology, which enables relational databases to better manage objects such as multimedia data types.

But the technology could not stem Informix losses in 1997.

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