Informix Corp’s recent decision to take its Japanese destiny into its own hands is another plank in the database company’s plan to bring sales in-house as far as it can. Only by selling direct, the company believes, will it be able to generate growth rates in the 20% to 30% range over a period of […]
Informix Corp’s recent decision to take its Japanese destiny into its own hands is another plank in the database company’s plan to bring sales in-house as far as it can. Only by selling direct, the company believes, will it be able to generate growth rates in the 20% to 30% range over a period of time. It is a policy that has been in operation in the US for two or three years now, and has most recently been introduced to the UK from France. In the UK, where the Informix management structure has been completely overhauled over the last year or so, the company created more than a little consternation among resellers who suddenly found themselves without a product. Informix shifted all of its resale business to Frontline Distribution Ltd. Although the UK unit anticipates doubling its sales force to 40 by year-end, it is going to take some time to reach the 50-50 direct-indirect sales split it is working towards in the medium term. However, the company is still running with the ball after its interception of Computer Associates International Inc’s, Ingres relational database at IBM Corp’s UKP450m project for the Royal Air Force, and claims to have a bunch of large direct deals pipelined through this year and next. Germany, Informix’s largest continental market, will be next to fall to the direct model now that it is been thoroughly tried a tested elsewhere. In Japan, Informix will hold 90% of a company that will take over Ascii Corp’s database division, which essentially markets Informix. Ascii will hold the other 10% of Informix Ascii KK. The price paid will be $46m, for a business doing some $44m annually. Ascii was responsible for Informix’s Kanji products, a responsibility the new unit will assume. The reason for the move is Informix’s perception that Unix is now starting to make headway into Japanese corporations, and its wish to be focused on those opportunities. Meanwhile, although Informix is the number two Unix relational database vendor in terms of revenue, it is still having a hard task selling itself as appropriate for any installation above small-to-medium sized businesses.
By William Fellows
The fact that it has as many as three times more licensees as any other player is testament to where its product sits in the market. It desperately wants to be the logical alternative to Oracle Corp, a mantle currently afforded to Sybase Inc, which partly explains why the Emeryville, California rival is on the receiving end of both the Informix and Oracle boots. Informix says Sybase is long overdue a spot in the technological hot seat and is enjoying hearing the answers Sybase has to all the questions about delays in its parallel Navigation Server offering and incompatibilities with System 10. Because there are not many organisations that do not have databases and because there is not very much downsizing revenue at all, the database vendors are all attempting to win hearts and minds for their respective application development tools strategies. This is because where there is replacement or knockout business to be won, it is usually up for grabs when a company is deciding how to build or implement a new application. Like the rest of the relational community, Informix sees the long-term competition coming from IBM Corp’s transaction processing strategy that envisages a central transaction software layer applying queries across Unix, OS/2, OS/400 and mainframe databases. The relational vendors are each building distributed functionality into their basic product set. Informix anticipates 1996-97 as the start of the real battle. On the product front, Informix recently bought into a Swedish Electronic Data Interchange developer; on security, Informaix claims a secure database that is independent of the operating system; and it is going after Smart Cards, using part of the database, not just data on the card. It has also changed its repository strategy, a fundamental database technology that never fails to gets software gazers so animated. Before, it had specified its New Era high level language tool set properly, Informix plum
ped for Siemens Nixdorf Informationssystemes AG’s repository schema. It was not until the technolgy was in development, Informix claims, that it realised the Siemens Nixdorf program was far to big for client-server development. So it is now doing its own repository which will be used for the majority of its product line. The Siemens Nixdorf software is retained for top-end users on a project-by-project basis, it says. Informix expects to ship five products in 1995: OnLine.7, the next generation of its OnLine.6, which is now available in the US; OnLine.6 for Windows NT; OnLine.6 for markets in Europe and Asia; NewEra software for Unix machines, and its standard SE database for OS/2. It will show the scalability of its new Informix 8.0 Dynamic Server database in December, and is on track for a beta release in April or May.