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Jasmine's time has come

After more than a year of promotion, Computer Associates ships its Jasmine object database software.

Mike Ricciuti Staff writer, CNET News
Mike Ricciuti joined CNET in 1996. He is now CNET News' Boston-based executive editor and east coast bureau chief, serving as department editor for business technology and software covered by CNET News, Reviews, and Download.com. E-mail Mike.
Mike Ricciuti
2 min read
Computer Associates (CA) thinks the time is right--and the market is ready--for its Jasmine object database software.

After more than a year of promotion, CA has shipped Jasmine, a database server and development tool package tuned to handle multimedia data on corporate intranets and the Internet.

As previously reported on December 2 by CNET'S NEWS.COM, the announcement, replete with big-name clients and high-level executives from CA and Fujitsu, which developed the base Jasmine technology, took place earlier this week at the fall Internet World '97 show in New York City.

Despite the Fortune 500's so-far lukewarm reception to object technology, CA executives believe the market for software such as Jasmine is just beginning to gel. CA positions Jasmine as a tool for managing the information--such as video, audio, and animation--that cannot be stored in standard relational databases.

The company sees Jasmine meshing with a growing need for tools to create a new generation of multimedia applications for deployment over intranets and the Internet.

The authoring environment works as an add-on to existing browsers. Jasmine is made up of three components: a multimedia execution module, a Web-enabled object-oriented database, and a multimedia authoring tool.

A free Jasmine software development kit is available now from CA. The final version of Jasmine is priced from $800, CA said.

But CA won't be the first company to stride confidently down the object database path. Several database software companies have pitched similar packages to corporate users in recent years with only marginal success. Most notably, Informix Software stumbled badly by overestimating demand for its Universal Server object-relational database. The company has since reworked its plan and Universal Server is now an add-on to its Dynamic Server database.

Sybase also has worked to hone its object strategy after canceling an earlier object-only database server.

Even database giant Oracle scaled back ambitious plans for object support as part of its recently delivered Oracle 8 database. The company opted for a more evolutionary approach that allows corporate developers to incrementally add support for images, video, and text to new and existing applications.

But by waiting on the sidelines, CA may benefit from a growing understanding among users on what object technology is and can do, analysts said. "CA realized the market wasn't right with Jasmine [originally]," said Merv Adrian, an analyst at the Meta Group. "You need critical mass in enterprise software. We may reach a point in time soon where the object database business comes together."

Adrian said CA made the right call by positioning Jasmine--instead of pursuing an object/relational strategy with its Ingres database.

"They have figured out how to hook up Jasmine to existing systems and to surround it with technology," he said.