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Informix Ditches Relational for Object/Relational Hybrid.

By Siobhan Kennedy Informix Corp has thrown its hat into the object oriented ring once again, only this time it's so convinced the market is ripe for the technology that it plans to cease development of its standalone relational database, Dynamic Server, and merge it into a single platform alongside its object oriented offerings.

Foundation.2000 was announced at its user conference in San Diego this week. Informix says the product is designed for enterprises in what it calls "the i.Economy" and it claims it will enable companies to reduce both the time and money it takes to get their web sites up and running. According to David Applebaum, Informix's VP product marketing, product management, Foundation.2000 took the company three years to build from ground up and is the first product to feature fully integrated object and relational code.

The thinking behind Foundation.2000, Informix says, is that companies don't just want static web pages. They want to give users access to different types of data - video, audio, 3D- graphics and geospatial - and they want to do it fast. Speed of development is one of the main reasons Informix has decided to meld its object and relational code together, Applebaum said. "The problem so far is dealing with content and being able to build applications that merge content with data," he said. "You can do that now, but developers will be calling out to three or four different sets of APIs. Some data would be in a file system somewhere and then there would be pointers to other systems to pull in other data." Moreover, most of the work had to be done by hand which is time consuming and very costly and means it's even harder to add new features and updates when required, he said.

Foundation.2000 overcomes those difficulties, Applebaum claims, by providing developers with one centralized platform and one common set of APIs. It comes with native support for the main internet standards including Java, Active X, Com+, C and C++ and incorporates both database and application server capabilities - Informix's equivalent to Oracle Corp's 8i internet database, as some pundits are already saying. "We don't bristle at the comparison but what we have is a more functional product than 8i," Applebaum said. With 8i, you can execute Java, but you have to go outside the database to manage other types of data. "They're stored outside the physical database," he said, "and all the code has to be executed outside, it just requires a lot of hand stitching. And that takes a lot of time which, in the internet space, is a very bad thing."

Applebaum acknowledges that pushing object technology at its users was something that did Informix no favors a few years back; most were comfortable with relational databases and didn't want to dabble in new fangled technology they knew nothing about. But now, with the internet bursting at the seams and companies rushing to get themselves and their products on line, he says object technology has finally come into its own. Diane Fraiman, the company's VP of corporate marketing agreed: "In the past we were criticized for not doing a single code stream," she said, "what was once bleeding edge is now right at the heart of the argument and Informix is there already. Now all the competition is trying to hurry along to get there....our time has come."

To prove that it's putting its money where its mouth is, Applebaum said that Informix won't continue to offer a standalone relational database after the current version, Dynamic Server 7.3. Instead, it will offer its customers an upgrade pack, designed to smooth the migration path to Foundation.2000. The upgrade offers a subset of the new technology including improvements to the relational code that speeds its performance. He says he's confident that 100% of Informix customers will want to go that route. Pricing for the new platform will be released in 30 days.
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Publication:Computergram International
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 23, 1999
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