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Informix takes different road to the Net

Following the footsteps of arch rival Oracle, Informix will begin selling an Internet-focused database for deploying Web-based applications.

Database maker Informix is following competitors to the Internet, but it's taking a different road.

Following the footsteps of archrival Oracle, Informix tomorrow will begin selling an Internet-focused database for deploying Web-based applications.

The new database, called the Informix Internet Foundation.2000, offers many of the same features as the Web-centric Oracle 8i database released four months ago. It sports a Java Virtual Machine for running Java code and a built-in application server that processes online transactions and runs the business logic of software. It supports not only traditional text data, but also video, HTML files, and other multimedia content.

"It's more than just a database," said Informix's new chief executive Jean-Yves Dexmier. "It's the foundation for the Internet."

Despite similarities with Oracle 8i, Informix said its new entry is part of the company's goal of setting itself apart from its competitors. While Oracle, IBM, and Microsoft have added new features to their monolithic databases, Informix earlier this year decided to slice its database into two: one aimed at the Internet and the other for data warehousing, which takes information from databases and gives businesses detailed analysis and reports.

The database for data warehousing, code-named Yellowstone, will support large numbers of users and large amounts of data, using technology from Red Brick Systems, which Informix purchased last year. Yellowstone is currently undergoing beta testing and is expected to ship by late September, Dexmier said.

In the meantime, Informix executives will spend this week touting the new Internet database at a conference in San Diego.

"Our 40 beta customers loved it for its Web capabilities," Dexmier said. "They loved it for its reliability and availability. It's faster?than our traditional database."

The new database, formerly code-named Centaur, supports Microsoft's COM programming model and offers connectors to enterprise resource planning and other databases. It runs on Unix, Windows NT, and Linux operating systems.

The Internet database is just the latest Web product released since the company reorganized into Internet and data warehousing divisions late last year. In April, the company released a suite of e-commerce tools, called i.Sell, that help medium to large businesses create online stores.

When Yellowstone, the database for data warehousing, is released, Dexmier envisions customers buying both Informix databases.

"Those products work very well together," he said. "I can imagine using Yellowstone as your huge business intelligence system and Centaur as the front end of an intranet."

Dexmier said he is not worried about competition with Oracle, which came out with a Web-based database four months before his company.

"There is room for everybody in this market," he said.