IBM plots course for Informix database

With the US$1 billion acquisition of the Informix database business that closed Monday, IBM Corp. will roughly double its business in Unix and Windows NT/2000 databases.

Although IBM will keep in place a schedule to introduce some improvements to the Informix database, its days are numbered. IBM's DB2 Universal Database is the company's strategic offering, and IBM will encourage Informix customers to consider switching to DB2 for new applications.

How IBM helps enterprises make that transition is vital, since IBM bought Informix Software Corp. mainly to increase its share of the distributed database market, where it lags well behind Oracle Corp. Counting Informix, IBM's market share jumps from about 12 percent to about 22 percent, using figures from 1999, the most recent market research by the Gartner Inc. Oracle has about twice that share, according to Gartner.

About 2,500 Informix employees now collect an IBM paycheck, as part of IBM Software's data management division under General Manager Janet Perna. IBM plans to sell and support the Informix database products through the former Informix sales staff.

IBM engineers are assessing the software technologies in the Informix database, and some of these will, over time, be incorporated into DB2.

Meanwhile, Informix has formally changed its name to Ascential Software Corp. and will focus on selling software for data integration and for managing media assets, such as video and images. The company has headquarters in Westboro, Mass.

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