Tuesday, May 25, 2010

New Informix editions: Bargain time? [ Please check end note and new article]

Again a non technical post. I'm really sorry about that... I still don't have enough free time and things are hapening that can't be ignored in this blog....
Before I start, a disclaimer: This post is by no means IBM official information. Please check the URLs given as reference and in case of doubt contact your local IBM sales representative.

So, you may have read it elsewhere, because it's all over the Informix related sites and forums: IBM did a total repackaging of the Informix product. That means that the different versions that we were used to have are gone (not all). Starting today there will be no more "enterprise edition" nor "workgroup edition". In their place there will be respectively the Ultimate Edition and the Growth Edition (oh... the names....). In very simple words, Ultimate Edition packs everything Informix has to offer except the Storage Optimization Feature (compression), and the Growth Edition excludes the partitioning, parallel features and compression (includes ER and clustering - up to two secondary nodes read/write - ) and is limited to 4 sockets or 16 cores and 16GB of RAM (sum of total memory allocated to Informix in a single install).

But the really great news are the introduction of two more editions: Innovator-C edition (available for all platforms) and Ultimate-C Edition for Windows and MacOS platforms. Now, what is so great about these "*-C" versions?:

  • You can download, develop and deploy without licensing costs
  • You can choose to buy support
  • Although there are resource limits these are reasonable (there will be other opinions....)
Let's see them in greater detail. "-C" stands for "Community" editions. Let's start by the Innovator-C edition:

  • Free to download
  • Free to develop
  • Free to deploy
  • Available generally for all platforms
  • Limited to 2GB of RAM (sum of total memory allocated to Informix in a single install), 1 socket or 4 cores, no storage limits
  • Enterprise replication (2 nodes)
  • HDR (1 secondary read/write)
  • Features not available: Compression, Continuous Availability Feature (CAF - Shared disks secondaries), partitioning, parallel features, Advanced Access Control (LBAC), Informix Warehouse, multiple secondaries, column encryption, distributed queries (I-Star) and some other functionality (check the details in the license)
  • Optional support
And now the Ultimate-C Edition for Windows and MacOS:
  • Free to download
  • Free to develop
  • Free to deploy
  • Available only on Windows and Mac OS
  • Limited to 16GB of RAM (sum of total memory allocated to Informix in a single install), 4 sockets or 16 cores
  • Full Enterprise Replication
  • HDR (1 secondary read/write)
  • Partitioning
  • Parallelism
  • Read/Write secondary nodes
  • Includes Informix Warehouse Feature
  • Advanced Access Control (LBAC)
  • Informix Warehouse Tool (SQW)
  • Features not available: Compression, Continuos Availability Feature (CAF - Shared disks secondaries)
  • Optional Support
NOTA: These editions cannot be re-distributed without an agreement with IBM

Other editions stay as they were: Developer Edition and Express Edition.
So now we have a free (as in beer, not free as in speech) database with some limitations, but probably usefull for a lot of scenarios. Will this mean that IBM will loose revenue? Not necessarily. It's clear that you can buy support. If you implement some critical applications on these "freely downloadable" editions it's probable that you'll want support. On the other hand, this should increase Informix presence and awareness in the market. These versions may be a perfect match for the Open Source initiative. I could name a lot of situations where I saw companies use mySQL or Postgres simply for cost reasons. Many of those scenarios would fit the usage cases for these new editions. So the initiative gains a lot more relevance now. The improvements in Hibernate are a very good sign and after some talks with a local partner I think other open source projects should receive attention. Thankfully many of them are already listed in the Open Source Initiative website.

Another good improvement (I'd better call it a fix of course) was the usability of the Informix web home. If you access http://ibm.com/software/data/informix or simply http://www.informix.com, you're end up on a page with a link for "downloads". From there you can easily navigate to a new list of Informix available downloads.

Where can you gather more information?:
These changes will be available with 11.50.xC7 fixpack.

NOTE: [ July 22, 2010 ]: This article is outdated! The Ultimate-C editions for Windows and Mac OS were withdrawn. The Innovator-C will be available for all platforms and a new edition (Choice) will appear. This will have lower license costs than Growth Edition, and limits between the Innovator-C and the Growth Edition.
Article with the last changes:




Andrew said...

I wonder if the 1 socket/4 cores will be a sticking point for some. What if you would like to use Informix Innovator-C but all you have are a bunch of dual processor servers? It sounds like you would be prohibited from running Innovator-C on any of these machines. I would have liked to see the limitation be on the resources Informix can use as was done with the memory limitation (if you have a 16GB machine, you're safe to run Innovator-C as long as you set SHMTOTAL to 2GB). Something like a maximum of 4 CPUVPs all pinned to a single physical CPU via processor affinity.

Fernando Nunes said...

Hi Andrew.
Good point. This should/could be clarified. I'm not sure you can't limit by CPUVPs.