Informix took centre stage at the DB Expo trade show in New York last week for the official launch of Universal Server, the flagship object-relational database that the company hopes will make it the number one database server supplier by the end of the century.
Universal Server is an amalgam of Informix? established Dynamic Scalable Architecture relational software and innovative object oriented technology acquired during its $400 million merger with Illustra last December. It extends the traditional relational model so that it can handle data types other than text and numbers, such as sound and video.
From the end of this month, Universal Server will be available on Sun and Silicon Graphics Unix platforms. NT and other flavours of Unix will follow in the first half of next year.
At the launch Informix also announced the immediate availability of 29 DataBlades, software modules that plug into the Universal Server engine to extend its functionality and enable it to handle non-relational data types. A futher 50 DataBlades, developed by both Informix and third party suppliers, will ship early in 1997.
Also at the show, IBM outlined features of its own object-relational database, DB2 Universal Server. This combines DB2 Common Server 2.1 with DB2 Parallel Edition 2.1 - making it a step ahead of Informix in supporting uniprocessor, parallel and clustered platforms in the same iteration of the database. The IBM product supports objects through extenders, its alternative to DataBlades or Oracle's Data Cartridges. Extenders currently support image, video, audio and text and will add fingerprint, spatial and time-series data (already supported in DataBlades) late next year.
The database will pull together existing and new features of DB2 such as Java Database Connectivity and a new tool for Web data access called Net.Data. The product, due to ship in mid-1997, also includes Sybase's IQ 11.1 query accelerator - the latest release of which was unveiled at DB Expo.
At the great database debate on the show's last day - from which Oracle was notably absent - Computer Associates was the only company to promote a pure object oriented database model rather than object-relational. This was also the theme of chief executive Charles Wang's keynote speech.
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