Informix plans to force widespread acceptance of its recently launched Universal Server object relational database by canning its other database products, but will throw open its tools strategy to third parties.
Universal Server is a combination of Informix relational software and object oriented technology acquired as a result of the company?s $400 million takeover of Illustra Software. It can handle more complex data types than traditional relational databases, such as audio and video.
Informix wants all users of former flagship relational product Online Dynamic Server (ODS) to move onto Universal Server by the end of this year. To that end, it will discontinue ODS towards the end of the third quarter. The company?s other relational products - Online Extended Parallel Server and Online Workgroup Server - will be pulled next year.
Existing customers will be offered a variety of upgrade options depending on how they intend to use the new database. For example, ODS customers who only want to use the relational functionality of Universal Server will upgrade free of charge, but those who wish to exploit its multimedia capabilities will have to buy a new licence.
By shipping Universal Server since the start of this year, Informix has won a head start over arch rivals Oracle and Sybase in the introduction of next-generation object-relational products. But Oracle?s much delayed Oracle8 is finally set to ship in June, while Sybase will announce a multimedia version of SQL Server next week at its user group in Orlando.
In a further attempt to win industry support for its new product, Informix this week put in place a strategy to allow developers to use their preferred tools to develop applications for Universal Server rather than have to use Informix own New Era product.
As part of its Universal Tools Strategy, Informix will ship Data Director, a piece of middleware which allows users of popular tools from third parties such as Microsoft, Sybase and Forte to develop Universal Server applications.
Data Developer support for most tools will be available in the third quarter - the same time as New Era 3.1 is scheduled to ship - although a Java version will be ready for release within the next couple of months.
The opening up of the tools strategy also reflects the conviction of Informix chief executive Phil White that customers are no longer prepared to pay large sums for tools optimised for specific databases. He blames companies such as Microsoft for commoditising the market by giving away software.
Meanwhile Informix also announced immediate availability of New Era 3.0, which offers native support for Universal Server as well as Windows 95 and Windows NT.
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