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Informix lays brick for new unit

Informix's $35 million purchase of Red Brick Systems is meant to boost the struggling database vendor's newly formed data warehousing division.

Informix is laying a new brick foundation for its data warehousing business.

Informix's $35 million purchase of Red Brick Systems late yesterday is meant to boost the struggling database vendor's newly formed data warehousing division.

"This announcement is the most recent of several decisive steps Informix has taken in executing its core growth strategy to build leadership in high performance [online transaction processing], data warehousing, and Web/e-commerce," said Informix chief executive Bob Finnochio.

"Today's announcement reflects a growing confidence in our future. With a return to sustained profitability and a growing number of customers, Informix is now focused on building market momentum in those segments of the database market where its advanced technology leadership offers customers a unique advantage."

With the database market hitting a plateau, key players are searching for new markets to keep their businesses going. Informix, like rival Sybase, is turning to the data warehousing market as one such area.

Menlo Park, California-based Informix reshuffled its organization in August and formed two new business units to focus specifically on data warehousing and e-commerce, areas that analysts say are among the few growing markets for database sales.

"In the Unix world, data warehousing and e-commerce are the lowest hanging fruit," said Brian Murphy, analyst at the Yankee Group in Boston.

The Meta Group in Stamford, Connecticut, predicts the "market for data warehouse software, hardware, and services will continue to grow at 40 percent annual compound rate through 1998, from $2.8 billion in 1996 to $8 billion in 1998."

But Informix will face some stiff competition. Even Oracle, which owns nearly 80 percent of the database market, is searching for areas of growth. Oracle, Sybase, and Informix are all turning to these new markets to grow their database businesses.