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November 15, 1993


By CBR Staff Writer

Informix lays out its road map for 1994 at User Group Forum in France, strikes deal with Microsoft

At Informix Software Inc’s European User Group Forum, in Cannes, France last week, the company outlined its product road map for 1994 and announced a strategic marketing deal with Microsoft Corp for joint marketing of Windows NT Advanced Server 3.1 with Informix-SE, its client-server standard database engine developers kit. On the database side, Informix outlined its symmetrical multiprocessing, parallel and massively parallel processing plans for its relational database, OnLine, which will appear in releases 6.0 and 7.0 respectively. Informix kicked off the meeting by announcing its plans for the tools side of its business. This includes the release of its object-oriented proprietary language, 4GL++, next year; the launch of enterprise-wide software engineering repository; the introduction of a suite of access and analysis tools for end users; support for Microsoft Corp’s ODBC Open Data Base Connectivity and IBM Corp’s DRDA Distributed Relational Database Architecture specifications; and support for all major graphical user interfaces including Windows, Motif and character. The new version of 4GL++ is, according to Informix, fully object-oriented and a complete revamp of the former product. But all existing applications written using the current version of Informix’s software will be able to migrate to the new environment without modification, says Phil White, Informix’s chief executive and president. New to 4GL++ is technology from Mountain View-based IntelliCorp, in which it recently bought a 15% stake: IntelliCorp has developed a Windows-based front-end screen painter for the tool.

Slide rules

It includes scroll bars, slide rules, customisable icons, menus and buttons. This is integrated with a set of visual class libraries that enable developers to build distributed applications graphically on screen. Distributed applications will assume native support for Motif, Windows or character-based front-ends irrespective of which environment they were developed in, Informix’s director of product marketing, Ron Bauer, says. The programming language also comes with a communications class library, which lets users embed Open Data Base Connectivity drivers in applications. This enables software to access data from third party relational databases and other tools. An Electronic Data Interchange library will also be provided later next year to enable users to automate the exchange of information within a business and between business partners via applications. This technology will be provided by Swedish firm IDK Frontec AB, in which Informix has just bought a 12% equity stake. 4GL++ will be available for both Unix and Windows NT. Accompanying 4GL++’s release in the second quarter of next year will be the firm’s new software engineering repository, which is based on Siemens Nixdorf Informationssysteme AG’s Entity Relationship Model. According to Informix, its implementation of the repository remains fairly faithful to Siemens Nixdorf’s architecture, except for the addition of an application programming interface which will enable third party software engineering tools to hook into it.

Parallel Informix Version 6.0 arrives this month, 7.0 next year

Informix OnLine Version 6.0, which is expected to be introduced by the end of the month, will comprise the base architecture for all the Menlo Park, California company’s parallel extensions to the database, plus transaction processing monitor support via X/Open Co Ltd’s XA interface. OnLine 6.0 enables complex queries and transactions to be subdivided across multiple processors. Key to its framework are a series of virtual processors that can be conditioned to handle communication, asynchronous input-output and administration transactions separately. Version 6.0 includes parallel index builds, archive and restore tables, a graphical interface for tape management routines and fault-tolerant back up functions. Other features include parallel logical store, scheduled archive, intelligen

t tape labelling and an interactive operator interface. Version 7.0 will include Informix’s massively parallel processing extensions, on which it has called in Beaverton, Oregon-based Sequent Computer Systems Inc as its development partner. It is scheduled for release in the third quarter next year, the company says. At the heart of OnLine Version 7.0 is the PDQ Parallel Database Query technology, which enables the database to address both simple and complex, CPU-intensive and decision support queries. Parallel Database Query structures data so that it can be sorted, scanned and connected in parallel, so as to break up large, complex queries into queues of smaller transactions, the company explains.In the area of new end-user analysis tools, Informix took the opportunity to introduce Viewpoint, a graphical database query and reporting tool that requires no programming skills, use of SQL or knowledge of the database schema.

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Bundling agreement with Microsoft on Informix-SE for Windows NT runs for six months to start with

Microsoft Corp may have allowed Windows NT to be over-hyped to a ridiculous extent before it started backpeddling, furiously, but despite the slow, slow burn so far, software vendors can’t afford to ignore NT, and in another announcement made at the conference, Informix has, as reported briefly, signed a worldwide marketing agreement under which it will bundle its Informix-SE database kit with Microsoft’s Windows NT operating systems. Under the terms of the six month agreement Informix will also bundle Informix-SQL, Informix-ESQL/C, Informix-Net/PC and its Open Data Base Connectivity driver. The promotional package will last until the second half of next year, when Informix and Microsoft will negotiate for OnLine 6.0. – Alison Hawkings

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