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Will new plan save Informix?

Informix, struggling to come back from disastrous financial disclosures and management turnovers, will announce a repackaging and repricing of its Universal Server database.

Informix Software (IFMXE) will next Wednesday detail a new product marketing plan intended to right its sinking financial ship.

As previously reported on November 4 by CNET's NEWS.COM, the troubled database maker, struggling to come back from disastrous financial disclosures and management turnovers, will announce a repackaging and repricing of its database product line.

Though Informix representatives wouldn't comment on specific plans, they did confirm that a simpler version of the product line will be announced Wednesday.

The new plan is expected to include a streamlining of the company's product lineup. Currently, Informix sells Online Dynamic Server, its flagship relational database server, and Universal Server, an object-relational database. Universal Server includes object technology, acquired when the company bought Illustra Software in 1995, combined with the relational base of Online Dynamic Server.

Analysts familiar with the company's plans said the simplification will include splitting Universal Server into a core database and a set of extra-cost, add-on features such as replication, clustering support, and other advanced technologies.

If the strategy fails to win new users for Informix, the company's troubles could multiply. Competitors are circling the company's user base, attempting to convince them that the time is right to make a switch. Next Tuesday, just a few hours before an Informix financial meeting in New York City, Oracle plans to announce a migration program that will offer Informix users steep discounts on Oracle software licenses, sources said.

Analysts--and former Informix managers--pin much of the company's financial troubles on Universal Server marketing. Former CEO Phil White admitted that the company may have been too aggressive in its bid to coax its customers toward Universal Server's new object-relational database technology on Windows NT and away from Online Dynamic Server--its cash cow--on Unix systems.

Also next week, Informix's incoming CEO Bob Finocchio and new CFO Jean-Yves Dexmier will hold a meeting with Wall Street analysts to disclose results for the company's fiscal third quarter and to discuss its restatement of past financial results.

Informix is expected to announce a loss of 21 cents per share, according to First Call.

Informix announced a larger-than-expected loss in the second quarter that ended June 29 of $120.5 million on revenues of $164.7 million. A month later, its former chief executive, Phil White, said he would resign and remain as chairman. White's role as chairman was short-lived; he left that post as well after only a week.

Last month Informix said it would double the amount of its restated 1996 results, as well as add 1995 to its restatement. Informix said it would restate its results for 1996 and 1995 by more than $200 million to account for irregularities and errors in the way certain types of revenues were recognized from the reseller channel.