April 1 1997 was the day the database industry as we know it came to an end, according to Oracle?s senior vice president for server technologies Gerry Held.
The reason for his startling claim was the unexpected announcement earlier in the day that Informix is heading for a ?substantial? loss in its first quarter ended 31 March. ?The first of April saw the end of Informix,? claimed Held, ?and also the end of the pure database company. ?
In Held?s view the market now belongs to Oracle and Microsoft as suppliers of a wider portfolio of software and services that includes databases.?[Oracle chief executive] Larry Ellison saw a few years ago that in order to be successful in the database industry, you could not just offer databases,? he explained. ?So Oracle expanded into tools and applications and consulting.?
Informix has taken a diametrically opposite position, focusing on the server engine side of the market and forming alliances with third parties to shore up the gaps in its portfolio. Chief executive Phil White has made it his ambition to have Informix take the number one position as a provider of databases.
But Held predicted that the company was heading into a decline after gambling its future on winning acceptance for its object relational Universal Server database only to find that there were no takers for the product.
He slammed the company for shipping as finished product what he said any other supplier would regard as a beta release with limited platform support in December. Anyone who bought the product had to buy a month of consulting services to get it to work, he claimed.
Held went on to dismiss Sybase?s chances of recovery from its current plight. Formerly number two to Oracle, Sybase has seen a number of flagship technology projects collapse and its revenues decline, prompting speculation that the company is ripe for acquisition.
Oracle policy dictated by Ellison is always to keep an eye on the number two position and concentrate competitive efforts against that company, said Held. ?We did that with Ingres and then with Sybase. In those days, people couldn?t even spell Informix,? he said. ?We never compete with Sybase any more. Informix has been number two for the past year or so, but now it?s their turn.?
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