|End of Support Dates|
Highlights: IIUG Survey, IDS Training, Chat wit the lab, Calendar
Welcome to the International Informix Users Group (IIUG) Insider! Designed for IIUG members and Informix user group leaders, this publication contains timely and relevant information for the IBM Informix community.
August has been a tough month. Not for the IIUG just for me personally. Between leaving my old apartment and moving to my new one I have spent two exhausting weeks in limbo. I hardly had access to the Internet and very little time for the Insider. The result is a much slimmer issue. I am leaving it to your judgment if this is good or bad. I hope to be back on track for the September issue. I hope you have noticed the positive change in IBM's attitude towards Informix. In our effort to help we are conducting a survey for IBM. We will NOT pass your personal data to IBM so please spare a few minutes of your time and take it. We would love to have some Informix success stories as well. If you would like to share them you can send them to me or to Carolyn Woods the IBM liaison to the IIUG Board of Directors at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My email address is still: email@example.com
The IIUG would like to ask your valuable input in a survey we are conducting. The survey will ask you about your company's current dealings with IBM, database plans, and your perceptions about the future of Informix. This survey will be used by IBM to better understand and react to the needs of its dedicated Informix community.
Your information will be shared with IBM on a summarized basis -- no personal information will be provided.
Please take a moment now to complete the survey; it will only be online for a limited time. It can be found at:
Privacy notice - what we do with the results
After the survey is closed, we will collect the results and provide them to IBM on a summarized basis - no individual names will be associated with any response. If you provide additional comments, they will be provided anonymously to IBM together with other user comments.
Here are the questions I've heard hundreds of times since IBM bought Informix in July of 2001:
"Is IBM discontinuing Informix?"
They are indeed valid concerns - the kind of questions for which CIOs and CEOs need clear, concise answers. In this article, which includes an interview with Bruce Weed, Program Director for Informix Marketing, I'll give you the answers.
Opinions or Facts?
My involvement with the International Informix Users Group (http://www.iiug.org) since 1997 has kept me keenly tuned in to both the user and the company side of the Informix product picture. In addition, one of the two major areas of focus for my company is the sale and support of Informix products so I am very much committed and invested in its future. While some have called me an eternal optimist I do need to make very important decisions about the future; this article is based on everything I know right now.
I also believe I can back everything up with empirical evidence: The opinions I express here are based on hundreds of discussions with IBM and users as well as a review of current product roadmaps and releases. I constantly monitor the future of Informix products and I believe everything here is accurate at this point in time.
But, I haven't spoken to everyone or heard everything and I'd love to hear what you think! I'm not as connected with the users overseas and would like to hear those experiences as well. To share your experiences, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org; I'll publish a summary of feedback in next month's IIUG Insider.
Is IBM discontinuing Informix?
This is the question that has been troubling IT decision-makers since IBM's acquisition of the Informix product line. Unfortunately, this question has been very much fueled by IBM's database competitors in an attempt to win Informix users.
It is very true that during the initial year or so of the transition there was a lot of confusion and uncertainty about the Informix product line. However, IBM has listened to the feedback of the IIUG and its extremely dedicated Informix community, delivering several releases of Informix Dynamic Server, XPS, and Red Brick. An excellent example is the current release of IDS 10, a major version upgrade with a large number of features. In addition, the next several product releases are scheduled through at least 2009. These releases are not just bug-fixes: They will include a number of features and enhancements. In addition, there is no end-of-life scheduled for Informix-SE, OnLine Extended Edition, and XPS, while IDS 7 support has been extended to 2009.
The reality is that IBM is one of the largest software companies in the world and they will support their customers as much as possible. It doesn't make business sense to force users to migrate their deeply-embedded database solutions away from the Informix platform they trust. One of the quotes I've heard numerous times from Janet Perna, General Manager of the IBM Information Management division, is that "Informix users will have support as long as they need it." Based on the release schedules and several discussions with IBM, I believe this to be entirely true.
Is IBM is going to force Informix users to migrate to DB2?
During the first two years of the transition, IBM's direction was to support Informix users indefinitely while enhancing DB2 so that it would be an easy transition for Informix users. Also, we have heard that the message provided to the IBM sales force was that customers should strongly consider migrating to DB2. Neither of these strategies worked, and based on the IDS product announcements and repositioning of IDS as IBM's embedded database of choice (see the interview with Bruce Weed for details), it appears that IBM has indeed listened to the desires of its customer base.
The current positioning allows customers to migrate to DB2 if they choose. Outside of that, customers are free to stay on their product of choice. To determine your company's options, I suggest you contact an IBM representative or an IBM Business Partner that works with and understands Informix products.
Something that's really impressed me lately is that IBM executives are mentioning Informix a lot in their data-related presentations. In fact, IBM encourages users to use IDS as the embedded database of choice for ISV applications, hardware devices, and more. I most recently heard these messages at the IDUG conference in May 2005 from Janet Perna, General Manager of Information Management, and Bob Picciano, Vice President of Database Servers.
One exception is that IDS 7 support will end in 2009, which is an extension of the original date of 2006. I believe this is reasonable because IDS 9 and 10 are extensions of IDS 7 and they have received numerous enhancements. The newer products also have a very large development team and are among the flagship products of the IBM Information Management brand. lf my company built software products, I would probably do the same thing: It's very hard to support two or more major versions of the same product (IDS 7, IDS 9, IDS 10).
Will Informix be around in 5 years? Do I need to move to another database now?
Yes, IDS 10 and subsequent versions will be around, and no, you only need to move to another DBMS if it makes business sense (see "Find Out More" at the end of this article). IBM has laid out a very clear plan for Informix users and has documented it in several places on the Informix Web site. These plans include several major releases of the database products like Red Brick, UniVerse and UniData (a.k.a. U2), Informix Dynamic Server v10, and XPS. Other plans include maintenance releases of other products like Informix-SE, OnLine Extended Server, Informix-4GL, and XPS.
Of course it is true that not all software vendors will continue to support IDS 10 and other Informix versions. This is in fact one of the frustrations I've heard most often from Informix users. IBM is working aggressively to maintain this support (see the interview below) but the reality is that not all vendors will support the product lines indefinitely. In these cases, IBM is working to make it a very viable option for Informix users to migrate to DB2 UDB, and in some cases there is no charge for this service (see comments on SAP below).
(Before you send me a series of email flames, yes, I do know that this migration to a new DBMS can sometimes become very difficult and extremely time-consuming. My belief if that this would be the case for a migration to any new DMBS. It does appear that IBM is working to build many of the IDS features into DB2 and greatly simplify the migration, as Bruce Weed tells me in the interview.)
DB2 is a mainframe-only database, isn't it?
Many customers I've encountered seem apprehensive about moving to DB2 because of the proverbial perception that DB2 is a mainframe-only database. Until about 2 years ago this was my perception as well. This is definitely not the case: when Janet Perna became General Manager of the newly-formed data management software division of IBM in 1996 one of her first objectives was to establish DB2's presence in the distributed world, which includes several flavors of Linux, UNIX and Windows (LUW). The products include some very impressive GUI management tools (which most Informix users would love to see in their products) and a number of Web and security features. IBM's goal is to continue to share best-of-breed technologies between Informix and DB2 UDB.
Why doesn't IBM market Informix?
Actually this question takes us way back in time - to the pre-IBM days of Informix. At that time the question was "Why doesn't Informix market Informix?"! It is indeed true that the early Informix marketing - or lack thereof - greatly helped Oracle establish itself as the UNIX market leader at that time, even though Informix seemed to be clearly ahead in technology (something I believe to be very true today as well). Informix was indeed the inventor of - at least one of the major contributors to - relational database systems on UNIX in the early 80's, yet Oracle managed to gain enormous market share while Informix's technology flourished.
IBM's position on the marketing of the Informix products has been a sore spot with its users for as long as I can remember. The official position is that IBM simply doesn't do much product-level marketing and Informix is no exception. This has changed a bit. While IBM isn't necessarily launching massive Informix ad campaigns, they are making many efforts via ads and magazine articles to emphasize the fact that the product is still viable and will be around for a long time. Bruce discusses this in detail in the interview below.
This perceived lack of marketing has been one of my "hot buttons" over the last 3 years. The disturbing thing is that a lot of users and decision-makers say this proves that Informix is "going away." Based on the facts, I simply don't see how this theory has any credibility. I find myself asking these questions about this misconception:
You may not agree with IBM's marketing strategy for Informix, but it certainly doesn't mean they are killing the product!
What has IBM done for me, the Informix user, lately?
This statement has also been one of my hot buttons for the last year. IBM has done a LOT for the Informix user! Here are some examples that are documented on various portions of the Informix Web site:
These are just the things I remember. Part of the problem might be that users are simply not aware of these programs. Unless this information is proactively pushed to the users or you don't see them on the Informix or IIUG Web site, it would be impossible to know about them. To get a better feel for these things, I suggest you use IIUG.org, the IIUG Insider, and http://www.ibm.com/informix (or http://www.informix.com) . I summarized these and other links in the "Find Out More" section at the end of this article.
The Interview with Bruce Weed
Following is an interview with Bruce Weed, Program Director for Informix Marketing. I asked him about all of the issues described previously in this article, and other topics as well. I appreciated his candor and the time he spent with me.
Flannery's Conclusions and Your Feedback
There you have it. I believe that from everything I've seen happening in the Informix world over the last year and Bruce and Janet's comments, Informix will be around for a long time and the users have many choices. I know that not everyone will agree with me and I'll undoubtedly be "flamed" by some users worldwide, so please send me your thoughts! You can reach me email@example.com. I'll publish a follow-up in next month's IIUG Insider.
Find Out More
There is a wealth of resources and information about Informix. The links below should bear out many of the facts stated in this article and interview.
The IBM Informix Dynamic Server Version 10.0 Migration Guide describes the migration procedures to convert or upgrade to Version 10.0 of IBM Informix Dynamic Server, revert to earlier versions, and move data between databases, database servers on the same or different operating systems, and computers. This manual also contains information on how to use the dbexport, dbimport, dbload, dbschema, onload, and onunload data-migration utilities and the LOAD and UNLOAD SQL statements.conversion (upgrading) to a later version of a database server, reversion to an earlier version of a database server, and movement of data between databases, database servers on the same operating system, database servers on different operating systems, and different kinds of database servers. Conversion or reversion often involves changing connectivity information in the sqlhosts file or registry key, host environment variables, configuration parameters, and other database server features.
To read the complete contents of the guide:
Ensuring Integrity of Distributed Transactions using 2-Phase Commit
Wednesday, September 7, 2005
Informix Dynamic Server has supported two-phase commit for some time, with v10.0, we now have improved and more extensive capabilities with the new MQ Datablade (TM) now commercially available. This provides more functionality and tighter integration with IBM's MQ products, known for reliable message delivery between virtually all types of applications on a wide variety of platforms. Our speakers will be:
Jerry Keesee, Director of the Informix Lab and
You may RSVP to: https://ww4.premconf.com/webrsvp/register?conf_id=3064360
The 2005 IDUG / IIUG Conference in Denver was a complete success, but get ready, the IIUG Board of Directors and the IDUG Board of Directors have decided to continue forward towards joint conferences.
IDUG 2006 - North America
SHARE YOUR INFORMIX KNOWLEDGE -- STRENGTHEN THE INFORMIX COMMUNITY
This is your opportunity to share your Informix experience and expertise with an audience of your peers at the premier user event dedicated to IBM's industry-leading database engine, Informix.
With this announcement being made, a Call For Papers for 2006 in Tampa, Florida May 7 - 11, 2006 is now open. All initial presentation proposals must be submitted by September 16, 2006!!
All Informix content will be under the complete direction of the IIUG Conference Planning Committee . If you are interested in speaking, please visit http://www.iiug.org/conf for guidelines and links to submit your presentation abstract for the 2006 Tampa Conference.
You will receive one complimentary IDUG 2006 - North America conference registration, if your presentation abstract is selected to be delivered at the conference.
IDUG is soliciting presentation abstracts, which delve into the details of implementation, migrating to a new release, or maximizing performance from any member of the Informix product family.* In recognition of the complex requirements of today's database implementations, IIUG is also soliciting presentation abstracts relating to tools and utilities solutions complementary to the Informix product family.
All presentations must be strongly technical in nature, cannot contain marketing themes, and must compliment the Informix product family:
*The Informix Product Family includes Informix Dynamic Server (IDS), Informix 4GL, Informix SQL, Informix ESQL/C, Standard Engine (SE), Online (5.X), XPS, EGL, RedBrick and other related Informix products.
IIUG strives to achieve a balanced conference program of business solutions relevant to today's IT environment and usage of Informix on one or more platforms (e.g., Windows, Linux, UNIX). Past presentation topics have included:
FREE REGISTRATION, INDUSTRY RECOGNITION, AND THE CHANCE TO TRAVEL AT IDUG'S EXPENSE!
If your presentation is selected to be delivered at IDUG 2006 - North America, you will receive one complimentary conference registration. Dual presenters are eligible for one free conference registration and a second registration at a reduced rate. The conference registration fee includes access to all conference activities, scheduled meals and social functions, program materials, conference proceedings, and a one-year IDUG membership.
Additionally, all presentations delivered by users are eligible for "The Best User Presentation" award. "The Best User Presentation" award is based exclusively on the evaluation of conference attendees. If your presentation is selected as "Best User Presentation," IDUG will send you on an all expense paid trip to deliver your presentation at another IDUG conference.
September 16, 2005 - Abstracts due to IDUG Headquarters. IDUG will confirm receipt of your abstract(s) submission(s) via e-mail.
Week of November 4, 2005 - Speakers will be selected and notified via e-mail/telephone.
February 20, 2006 - Draft presentation due to IDUG Headquarters.
March 16, 2006 - Final presentation due to IDUG Headquarters.
FULL INFORMATION AND PRESENTATION SUBMISSION
Please visit http://www.iiug.org/conf for details.
See what other IIUG members said about the 2005 IDUG Conference in Denver at http://www.iiug.org/news/insider/insider_may05.html#2.
REDBOOK HOT OFF THE PRESS: Transitioning: Informix 4GL to Enterprise Generation Language (EGL) SG24-6673
Informix 4GL to EGL Conversion Utility
The 4GL to EGL Conversion Utility allows Informix customers to upgrade their 4GL application development environment to the Rational Software Development platform and, more specifically, transition to the Rational Enterprise Generation Language.
What is Enterprise Generation Language (EGL)?
Transitioning 4GL to EGL REDBOOK
Informix 4GL developers who are unfamiliar with Java can use EGL to quickly build data-driven Web applications and business logic. They can then write and debug their applications in EGL, and the Java code will be generated for them. So they can then build dynamic Web applications without having to learn the Java language. This provides significant advantages, enabling clients to minimize application development time and resource requirements.
For more information access the following links:
ANOTHER NEW REDBOOK! Database Strategies: Using Informix XPS and DB2 Universal Database (SG24-6437)
The acquisition of Informix by IBM has provided the opportunity for Informix customers to consider new alternatives to further enrich their data management systems infrastructure. They can now more easily take advantage of available products, services, and capabilities as they grow and change.
This IBM Redbook focuses on:
With this information, customers can better decide which products satisfy their particular requirements, and better plan on how to achieve their objectives as they develop their database management system strategy. They will be better positioned to make informed decisions that can give them the best return on their DBMS investment.
Gillani's FourGen CASE Tools offer Hi-Speed Rapid Application Development environment for Informix 4GL programmers.
Currently, Gillani is offering Free Two-User license of FourGen CASE Tools, when you renew your 4GL and IDS annual maintenance through Gillani. Offer is good through December 2005. Gillani is also an IBM reseller of Informix product.
For more information, visit http://www.gillani.com or call 1-877-424-8500
A special note to IIUG Members from Steve W. Martin, Author of The Real Story of Informix Software and Phil White (http://www.storyofinformix.com):
When I joined Informix Software in 1991, I had no idea of the tremendous highs and lows I would experience over the following six years. I witnessed a company grow from just over a hundred million dollars to a billion dollars in sales, from hundreds of employees to almost five thousand, and I saw a two-dollar stock rise, split, and increase to over ninety dollars. The times were exciting and the pace was frenetic.
Along with the accomplishments during my tenure at Informix, I also remember a company that launched products that didn't work quite as advertised, squandered half a billion dollars on failed business strategies, and participated in a merger without winners. Worse yet, I witnessed Informix Software's complete collapse--culturally, ethically, and financially.
However, only through the passage of time have I been able to put these events into proper perspective. I have included them in my new book titled, The Real Story of Informix Software and Phil White: Lessons in Business and Leadership for the Executive Team. While the book won't be available in bookstores until October, you can purchase advance copies on my web site at http://www.storyofinformix.com. Through October, IIUG members will receive a $4 discount if they specify "IIUG MEMBER" in the inscription field on the order entry form.
Informix Software has played an important role in many people's lives; investors, employees, and most of all, customers. In fact, the highlight of my time at Informix was working with customers. The people who bought Informix Software's products were different. They weren't awestruck by Oracle and its emperor Larry Ellison. They weren't enamored by Sybase's elitism. They were straight-shooters in search of the truth. And, the plain truth was that the Informix database was the best.
Wishing you continued success,
Steve W. Martin
In response to your input, we have created a page on the IIUG web site containing all the links we used to include. Please find it at: http://www.iiug.org/quicklinks.html
The International Informix Users Group (IIUG) is an organization designed to enhance communications between its worldwide user community and IBM. IIUG's membership database now exceeds 25,000 entries and enjoys the support and commitment of IBM's Data Management division. Key programs include local user groups and special interest groups, which we promote and assist from launch through growth.
For comments, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.