Monday, March 02, 2009

FUD for thought

If you're a frequent visitor here or to any other Informix related post, there are good chances you also check the Informix usenet group. If you don't know what I'm writing about you can check it at

I'm a usual reader and poster on that group, and recently one of the topics got my attention. I think it deserves a bit of our time in order to understand a few things...
One person posted a message on the group, asking for an "IBM 10 year plan for Informix". The reason he needs it, as far as the post says, relates to the fact that, allegedly, a sales representative from an IBM competitor had that for it's database, and the consultants were saying IBM hadn't a similar documented plan for Informix.

Let me tell you that usually, the technical posts are more participated than the "commercial oriented" ones. But in this case we could see very quick answers from IBM business partners, IBM Informix architects and even from Oracle employees... All of them agreed on something: Neither IBM, or Oracle (and probably not any other software vendor) has a plan for 10 years. And why not? Well, simply because in 10 years everything can change in the IT industry. New trends, new needs, new paradigms. So what would be the point in making a plan that would almost for sure be changed in the middle?
This leads us back to the initial situation... so why would someone try to raise Fears, Uncertainty and Doubts (FUD) about IBM and Informix? The simple answer, provided by some, was simply because it's a usual sales tactic when the customer is leaning towards the competition.
Why not use technical or other commercial arguments in that situation? Probably because it's harder, or simply because there are no other arguments strong enough...
This simple situation, accordingly to some of the posters is relatively usual. I've seen it happen, or at least I've seen the effect of them, when people that are simply not informed ask me if IBM is trying to move Informix customers to DB2. So, let me try to raise a few questions and propose some answers:

  1. Does IBM have a plan for Informix?
    Yes. You can check a roadmap in a recent presentation which you can access at:
  2. Does IBM have a ten year plan for Informix?
    No. It doesn't have a ten year plan for any product, simply because it's not realist. If such a plan existed it would ignore all the future changes, trends and shifts in the IT industry.
    On the other hand, IBM has nearly a ten year past with Informix. Think about that when you read the next questions
  3. Has Informix been improved in the hands of IBM?
    Sure. IDS releases since 9.4 have seen done by IBM. I prefer to exclude 9.40 because it happened almost immediately after the acquisition, so the development phase was done by Informix Corporation. But think about IDS 10, IDS 11 and IDS 11.5. Think about all the new features. Think about MACH 11. Think about all the improvements in security (LBAC, default roles, SSL, single sign on, column level encryption, encryption expert, encrypted replication, PAM authentication...). Think about compression (11.50.xC4 as already announced in the early validation program). Think about unicode. Think about common client (DRDA). Think about performance (shared statement cache, non-blocking checkpoints, index self join, CPUVP cache, Direct I/O...). Think about Open Admin Tool. Think about all the new features in enterprise replication. Think about dynamic SQL in stored procedures. Think about ontape and OnBAR improvements. Think about SQL trace. Think about SQL admin API. Think about DB scheduler...
  4. Does IBM talk about Informix?
    Yes. Have you noticed the recent announcements about Informix availability in the "cloud"? Have you noticed that we have regular webcasts? Have you read all the IBM redbooks about Informix? Have you been to any of the proof of technology events all around the globe? Have you noticed what are the "brands" on the bottom of the 2009 EMEA IOD Conference page?
  5. Did Informix loose any of it's strengths in the hands of IBM?
    No... It's still stable, fast, easy to setup and manage, and "light" (both in installation size and in resource consuption)
  6. Is it harder to upgrade than before?
    No... it's still the same process to move from IDS 7.31 to IDS 11.50 as it was from 7.30 to 7.31. Simple and quick...
  7. Is it more expensive?
    No. It's still competitive. You get more features included on the base price than in most of it's competition. And you can get a fair deal if you run it in virtualized environments.
  8. Do we have more or less information about Informix?
    More. Currently we have a lot of blogs and sites with information about Informix. The IBM site, although complex, has all the manuals, product lifecyle, product downloads etc.
  9. It it harder to test Informix?
    No. You can download a developer version from the IBM site. You can even download a virtual appliance with the software and some demos (MACH 11 for example)
  10. Did we loose Informix technical support quality?
    No. In recent surveys, Informix customer satisfaction was proven to be high. You don't get that with lousy technical support.
  11. Do we still have a great international user group?
    Yes! IIUG continues to do a terrific job. Even in the current difficult times, IIUG continues to promote Informix and works closely with IBM. Just check some recent announcements, the IIUG 2009 user conference, the surveys, the monthly insider etc.
  12. What about Informix training?
    IBM has been updating the Informix training courses. I had the pleasure to try some of them in the ILO (Instructor Led Online) environment, so I can assure that the new features are covered in the courses.
So... what the mentioned comp.databases.informix thread talked about is FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt). What I exposed above are verifiable facts. The decison between the two should be taken by customers. Do you prefer to trust those who have been providing good, fast, stable, scalable and easy to manage software, or do you prefer to trust those who try to scare you with statements that are contradicted by facts and an history of almost 10 years?


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