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Tandem licenses Informix data type technology

Tandem added to Informix's effort to set standards for supporting complex data types by licensing DataBlade technology.

Server hardware vendor Tandem Computers (TDM) boosted Informix Software's (IFMX) bid to establish a standard for supporting complex data types by licensing Informix's DataBlade technology for inclusion in future software.

Tandem will integrate Informix's DataBlade API (application programming interface) into its NonStop SQL parallel processing database, in effect extending the database to support text, video, objects, and other data types, in addition to existing support for relational data. Tandem will launch the resulting product, renamed ServerWare SQL, in the fall of 1997, the company said. No pricing has been set.

Complex data type support in relational databases allows companies to more easily host Web sites that contain text, audio, and video atop existing corporate applications. All major database software makers are adding complex data support.

For Informix, the deal broadens the potential market for products developed by DataBlade application developers. The company has been attempting to cultivate a third-party developer market through a series of marketing programs and the release of software development kits. The company hopes that a strong third-party developer market offering a wide range of technology will make the company's database software and DataBlade technology more attractive to a wider base of corporate IS teams.

DataBlade modules, developed by Informix and roughly 30 third-party developers, extend the company's Illustra Server (acquired through a merger of Illustra Technology and Informix in February) and Informix's upcoming Universal Server to handle unique data types and specific applications, such as text search capabilities and voice recognition. Universal Server, which represents a merger of the two companies' technologies, is set to debut on Unix systems in December and on Windows NT by February of next year, CEO Phil White said.

White said Informix will attempt to sign up additional companies to license the API but declined to provide names of potential licensees. "I hope that this will be the first of an industry-wide adoption of DataBlade technology, eventually by our competitors someday, maybe. We hope the technology will be licensed by anyone who wants to add value to their apps. It's a way to get new data types into play."

The DataBlade API includes portions of a proposed industry standard for support of complex data types on relational databases called SQL 3.0. Informix has adopted SQL 3.0 as part of its API for complex data support, and competitors including Oracle, Sybase, and Microsoft are expected to follow suit.

Tandem sells its database software to companies using its server hardware, but will also in the future resell Informix's Illustra Server and Universal Server databases on its upcoming Windows NT-based servers.