Informix plans to set up two Web oriented business units at the start of its new financial year to focus on the Internet as a major growth engine for the future and it also intends to grow by acquisition.
While the database supplier has ostensibly recovered from its financial debacle of a couple of years ago, following accounting irregularities and an overemphasis on its Illustra object/relational database at the expense of its bread and butter offerings, the firm’s share price is still languishing at about the $8 mark and it is no longer seen as a darling of Wall Street.
In addition, although its revenues increased by 19 per cent to $206.8 million for its fiscal second quarter, which ended on 30 June, the figures were boosted by about $8 million due to its acquisition of Red Brick. Underlying sales growth was more like 13.6 per cent.
As a result, on 1 October, Informix intends to establish a Web Foundation division to sell its Internet Foundation.2000 (IF.2000) database, formerly codenamed Centaur (see VNU Newswire, 21 July, 1999), to OEMs to embed in their products, and a Web Solutions unit.
This will include Web based packages such as its current media asset management business and the i.sell and i.reach applications bundles. It will also see marketing, product management and development staff under one roof for the first time in an attempt to make Informix a “more market driven, customer focused organisation”, in the words of Jean-Yves Dexmier, its president and chief executive.
Informix’s business intelligence (BI) division will remain intact, however, and its new socalled product selling business will sell its database and other offerings to users, although it will have an increased focus on channel sales.
The organisation is also looking at new sales channels such as edistribution because it believes this will promote operational efficiency by enabling it to sell a higher volume of products at a higher margin.
Diane Fraiman, Informix’s vice president of marketing, said at the firm’s Information Portal user group meeting in San Diego last week: “The aim is to create a laser beam focus on Web technology. It’s the next step in what we already have and we’re declaring a strong focus on Web solutions to boost growth.”
Alan Kerr, the company’s vice president of Europe, explained that the online transaction processing (OLTP) market was growing at about 20 per cent as customers extended their applications, “so we’re never going to significantly grow the business on that. BI is growing at 35 per cent, so it’s got some good possibilities and the Red Brick acquisition has the potential for a lot of growth. But there is no dominant player in the Web space, so this is where we’ll focus our efforts”.
Dexmier continued that, while it cost a lot of money to displace rivals in established markets such as OLTP, where Oracle controlled about 40 per cent of the market, it was not so expensive to enter new sectors.
“We’re now in the second phase of our history and we have to grow the company and increase shareholder value by focusing on markets where we definately want to do business. It’s a matter of execution and speed of execution and focusing the resources of the company. We’re trying to create a market driven, customer oriented organisation, which is different from the old Informix, and we’ve started in the Web technology market with Internet Foundation,” he said.
He continued: “We’ll grow both organically and externally and you’ll see us undertaking mergers and acquisitions. We aim to grow faster than the market itself via acquisition and we’re looking at opportunities in all of our market segments.”
“We’ll make technology acqusitions to add to our portfolio in the Web and BI and look at companies with traditional revenues such as OLTP. As for merger with a large company, there’s not a lot of opportunity and it’s my personal belief and the belief of the board that we’ll have more growth opportunities by executing on our outlined strategy,” he added.
And key to this strategy, particularly of winning new customers outside of its installed base, is Informix’s newly launched IF.2000 database, which is a merger between the object/relational database it acquired with Illustra and its flagship Informix Dynamic Server (IDS).
The supplier dedicated one third of its engineering resource over three years to trying to integrate the two offerings, but has also added Java, Microsoft Com and XML support to make it more suitable for running Web based applications.
However, in an effort to learn from past mistakes and not force its installed base to migrate to new technology before it is ready, Informix is also introducing IDS.2000. This is aimed at customers that want to continue focusing on their traditional client/server OLTP environment rather than move to the Web and is a socalled subset of IF.2000.
As a result, it does not include most of the datablade packs of IF.2000 such as text, Web, video or audio, but users can buy them separately for about the same price.
Fraiman explained: “We’re providing an upgrade path from Dynamic Server to IDS.2000 to Foundation.2000. The installed base needs to understand there’s an upgrade path, but our main objective is to brand Foundation, which is why we’re not making a big deal about IDS.2000.”
She continued: “We want the outside world to be talking about Foundation and the sales force needs to understand that this is the main product I’m branding and selling. From a marketing perspective, we’ve got to go out and brand our flagship product before we dilute it, but also take care of our installed base in a clear way. It’s all Foundation really - it’s just a matter of packaging.”
Dexmier added: “Informix was an extremely good research and development organisation, but we didn’t realise that in the traditional OLTP client/server space, performance was not an issue any more except for a thin slice of applications. Players such as Oracle decided to get into the applications sector to drive database sales and were very successful, but we didn’t recognise where the market was.”
“But with Foundation, we started analysing the market and we saw that the Internet was driven by performance, so we’re moving into that market,” he concluded.
The two offerings are due to ship next week and will be sold under a promotional pricing offer for the next year. An IDS.2000 license will cost $1,500 until August 2000 when this will rise to $1,800, while IF.2000 will cost $2,100, before rising to $2,400.
Users will pay a promotional price of $300 to move from IDS to IF.2000, but this will increase to $900 for IDS 7.x users and $600 for Universal Data Option 9.0 customers after August 2000.
Freshly launched 11nm Qualcomm silicon will come with Adreno 612 GPU
Are pinning down the exact rate of expansion of the Hubble constant
RISC OS 5 to form the basis of RISC OS Open after Castle Technology sells to RISC OS Developments
A smartphone maker fiddling its benchmarking scores? That's unusual, isn't it?