Informix US has confirmed that it intends to move away from some of its flagship database products by the middle of next year, despite protests from its European subsidiaries that there are "absolutely no plans" to do so.
The supplier wants to move its entire customer base onto a single database in the shape of its object/relational Universal Server and plans to encourage transition to the new platform by withdrawing other products - beginning with Online Dynamic Server (ODS) - over the next 18 months.
Phil White, Informix chief executive, told resellers at the company?s partners conference in San Jose, California last month that by mid-1998 the company would only offer one database platform. Later that month Informix database marketing director Malcolm Colston was quoted as saying: "There's probably no reason [to ship ODS] after the third quarter, when we can demonstrate that Universal Server is faster than ODS."
Despite these statements, Informix UK this week issued a statement categorically denying there were any such plans. Barbara Stanley, Informix? northern European regional marketing director, said: "We have no record of decommitting from existing product ranges or forcing customers to adopt new technologies and we intend to keep it that way."
But a spokesman for Informix US contradicted Stanley when he confirmed that the company's publicly declared policy was to move to a single database platform, which would be Universal Server. When questioned about the time scales for the move to a single code base, he said the UK statement had been issued to allay fears that the products were being withdrawn at once.
The non-Unversal Server products will actually be withdrawn in stages. This year ODS and Universal Server will merge into one product, allowing the company to stop promoting ODS early next year. Attention will then shift to integrating Universal Server and Extended Parallel Server during 1998.
On Monday, Informix was unable to produce anyone to provide an exact timetable for withdrawal of non-Universal Server products - the spokesman said the company had other matters to deal with - but did not reject 18 months as a reasonable timescale.
Universal Server is an object/relational product composed of an amalgamation of code from Illustra?s object oriented software and Informix?s own Online Dynamic Scalable Architecture. It was launched last December in a fanfare of publicity and positioned as the company?s new flagship product.
But analysts and rivals questioned how long Informix could maintain Universal Server and the four other databases in its portfolio - Online Workstation, Online Dynamic Server, Online Extended Parallel Server and Online Workgroup Server.
Informix claims that ODS customers who migrate to Universal Server will be able to run their existing relational applications transparently on the object/relational platform. This is rejected by rivals, notably Oracle, which claim that considerable consultancy work is needed to move.
Earlier this month, CEO White admitted that the company had focused too much attention on Universal Server at the expense of its traditional markets, an error which has contributed to the "substantial" quarterly losses of up to $100 million which the company will post next week.
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