By Betsy Burton, Gartner Analyst
IBM's new release of Informix's flagship database management system
will do little to reassure Informix customers--and even less to make
Informix products more attractive in an intensely competitive market.
Gartner client inquiries show that
Informix customers are nervous about the
future. A number of large businesses are already developing plans to
migrate away from Informix, if necessary--many of them considering
competitive products from Oracle and Microsoft. The latest release is
little reassurance of Informix's continuing viability.
The major problem is that IBM has not clearly articulated credible
priorities and differentiation for its multiple DB2 code lines, such as
OS/390, Unix, AS/400 and NT, and for its seven different Informix products
such as Informix Dynamic Server, Extended Parallel Server, Foundation2000,
Red Brick and Cloudscape.
Like Informix before its acquisition, IBM has stated that it plans to
maintain all of its database product lines until customers make it clear that
they do not need one or more of them. Customers don't believe that IBM can
really support all its different code lines to the same degree, so they have
no idea whether further investments in Informix would be justified.
Gartner believes that this approach will strain IBM's integration and
support resources to the point where it impairs the company's ability to execute a
competitive product and business strategy. This situation is especially
perplexing, coming as it does from a company that has long-established
expertise in helping enterprise customers manage large software migrations.
Questions remain, also, about the portfolio of embedded DBMS products and
tools, such as UniData and UniVerse (U2), that IBM acquired with the
Informix portfolio. These offerings have little synergy with Informix's
higher-profile products and sell exclusively through channel partners. IBM
may have contractual problems with these partners and may well have to spin
off that section of Informix's business as a separate entity.
Businesses considering new Informix purchases should
put their plans on hold until they see a credible road map for the Informix
products. Gartner believes that IBM will continue to support the Informix XPS
product over the next five years. Informix IDS, Foundation2000, Cloudscape,
Redbrick and U2 customers will likely begin to experience a decline in
support and should immediately begin to consider other DBMS options.
IBM's failure to share solid, detailed information with Informix customers and
prospects will increase the percentage of businesses considering a
migration to other database software such as Microsoft's SQL Server and Oracle.
(For a related commentary on the separation of Informix's database and
solutions businesses, see Gartner.com.)
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initial commentary and analysis and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Positions taken are subject to change as
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