Netscape Communications Corp, Mountain View, the runaway leader in the supply of Internet access software which is shortly to go public on a sky-high valuation of nearly $500m, has switched database supplier from Oracle Corp to Informix Corp only a few months after it first began shipping products, writes Andy Lawrence of Computer Business Review. […]
Netscape Communications Corp, Mountain View, the runaway leader in the supply of Internet access software which is shortly to go public on a sky-high valuation of nearly $500m, has switched database supplier from Oracle Corp to Informix Corp only a few months after it first began shipping products, writes Andy Lawrence of Computer Business Review. Although Informix and Netscape were playing down the long-term impact of the switch, it could mean tens of thousands of extra licence sales for Informix and a serious blow to Oracle. Netscape says it will replace Oracle in all its Internet server products, known as the Netscape Internet Applications family. These products, which enable businesses to build up a commercial presence on the Internet’s World Wide Web, are expected to be enormously successful, hence Netscape’s high rating leading up to its public offering. Netscape made a loss of $2.7m on sales of $4.7m for the first quarter but some analysts believe demand for its product could be so great that it will be turning over $500m within two years. Netscape’s business model is based on the free distribution of Internet browsers, with all its revenues coming from the sale of high-value server products and systems integration and services. Netscape will use Informix as a key component in Netscape Community Systems for on-line chat and Netscape Instore for on-line merchandising, bundling the products with Informix and offering them as a turnkey system. At present, about 1,000 users have Netscape server products based on Oracle. Many of these are trial users. Marc Andreeson, Netscape’s technical director and co-founder Jim Clarke, said the switch was made because, it is clear to us that Informix is the technical leader. A key reason is that Informix’s main database product, Informix Online Dynamic Server, performs much faster for large scale database searches that are likely to be typical on the Internet. Informix’s scalability and implementation on multiprocessor architectures was also cited as important. Jeff Hudson, Informix’s vice-president for business development, refused to put a value on the deal, but said that it was more than just an OEM agreement and involved long-term co-operation. This could involve building large-scale transaction databases for access over the Internet and mobile access using software currently under development by Informix. The day before the tie-up, Oracle announced a similar co-operative agreement with Spyglass Inc, another supplier of Internet access software (CI No 2,709) . Hudson said, I believe everyone can see that the announcement for what it is. He said that Oracle had made the agreement to distract attention from the Informix-Netscape deal. That’s not a good reason to partner, in my mind he said.