Informix?s controversial object relational Universal Server has been canned as a standalone product after less than a year as the beleagured database supplier slashes its overcrowded portfolio.
Universal Server - a combination of established relational technology from Informix and object-oriented technology acquired from California-start up Illustra - was launched last Christmas as the new flagship for Informix.
Sales and marketing personnel at the company were ordered to make the new product their top priority, but the market was not ready for the functionality which it offered. To date, the company can only cite a handful of customers by name and many of those were existing Illustra users.
The focus on Universal Server cost the company dearly when sales of the established relational Online Dynamic Server dried up, just as horrifying revelations emerged that the company had been issuing inaccurate financial information. This week the firm admitted to $236 million of inaccurately reported profits over a three year period.
Customers were also concerned when former chief executive Phil White responded to criticism that there were too many databases in the Informix portfolio by annoucing that support would be pulled for other products over time and customers should move to Universal Server. This policy was later rescinded follwing an outcry from the installed base.
Although the company?s two main product strategists - Michael Stonebraker and Mike Saranga - have survived in the executive bloodletting that has characterised Informix this year, an overhaul of the product line was ordered by incoming chief executive Bob Finocchio.
The party line on the corporate server strategy has now been amended quite significantly. The flagship product remains relational, not object relational, with certain options to enhance its functionality and make use of the Illustra technology - which did after all set the old management regime back a cool $400 million.
The basic mantra which the sales and marketing people will not chant is along the lines of ?There was never anything wrong with our technology, but we had so much good stuff on offer that the poor customers became understandably confused and didn?t buy much of it. So we?ve made it all a lot simpler for you.?
?Informix has long been the database technology leader,? insisted Finocchio. "Today's announcement makes it easier for our sales force to configure solutions for our customers and for the customers to buy them.?
What the company is doing is putting all its eggs in one, decidedly relational basket in the form of a single server called Dynamic Server - which is essentially the old Online Dynamic Server with a new API bolted on to it to allow for additional functionality from the other products to be added on to it.
There will be a number of different configurations of Dynamic Server based on aspects of the other databases in the portfoli. The Advanced Decision Support Option and the Extended Parallel Option come from XPS, while the MetaCube ROLAP Option is a bit of what used to be the MetaCube multidimensional data tool.
But the most significant addition is the Universal Data Option, which takes the DataBlade software plug-in technology from Universal Server and ships it as an optional extra for the relational product, completing the company?s acceptance that the market is not yet there for a fully object relational product.
The company has also cut its prices. Purchasing Informix Dynamic Server with the two former XPS functions - Extended Parallel Option and the Advanced Decision Support Option- costs $2,200 per user instead of the $3,000 per user that XPS used to cost. Former Universal Server DataBlades are now available for $300 a user - it used to cost at least $1,000 to upgrade from Online Dynamic Server to Universal Server.
The firm has also come up with a single Informix Client, which it claims will allow developers to write applications once and deploy them to Informix Dynamic Server or any of its options. The company also hopes that the API should also speed the development of commercial applications running against Informix products. Leading application software suppliers such as SAP had no plans to support Universal Server.
Meanwhile Informix investors were divided on how successful Finocchio was in his attempts to assure Wall Street that the company has a viable future. One said: ?I think [Finocchio was]being as honest as he could without dropping his pants completely for Oracle and Sybase. He was evasive, but...I am sure Oracle?s Larry [Ellison] and the boys are dissecting every last word said to get the jump on Informix. Everyone knows all of IFMX's bad laundry. When we are about to go to war as a nation, does our President tell CNN a blow by blow account of what we are going to do??
But another saw problems still ahead. ?[Finocchio?s presentation] was mostly putting spin on the past,? he said. ?Marketing is generally not as reactionary as it is forward thinking and strategic. He had to do what he did. But the real marketing issues are now in front of him and I know he's good at it and is addressing them.?
Boris the robot outed as man in rented robot suit
Mission will provide vital data about the performance of rocket, spacecraft, autonomous docking system and the landing system
The flight will take off from California's Mojave Air and Space Port and could happen as soon as 13th December
Earth was showered with heavy particles called muons, which could have caused mutations and cancer in animals