Just ahead of this week’s Universal Database rollout from IBM Corp comes news that struggling RAD tool vendor Omnis Software Inc (CI No 3,167) has scored something of a coup by being able to claim to be the first OEM for the product, with the claim that IBM is using Omnis as spearhead into small to medium sized businesses who would otherwise skip the object-relational database as too high-end. Omnis, the former Blyth Software Inc, claims a large VAR base worldwide in conventional areas such as accounting and medical practice, says its chairman and CEO (and former IBMer) Tim Negris, but due to its roots as an Apple Computer Inc Macintosh database development tool in the 1980s it has a presence in the emerging digital content management space (numbering 13 advertising agency value added resellers alone, he claims). This dovetails nicely with IBM’s message that the extensions customers can expect in the Universal Database (CI No 3,163) will be more immediately useful business datatypes like spatial or time-series data than the heavy multimedia content carried in the Informix Software Inc or Oracle Corp Oracle8 rivals. Ironically, the world can partly blame Negris himself for that image of what a universal database management system can do, given that he helped what he calls the Larry Ellison video-on- demand rabble rousing of the early 1990s. The link between the tiny Omnis and Big Blue also has something to with the fact that just prior to joining Omnis Negris was most recently executive vice president marketing and development at IBM’s Software Solutions division under Steve Mills. Negris, who added chairman to his role at the company only last month, says that IBM, unlike the other database companies, is the only one that really is serious about keeping its tools and database arms as distinct areas, meaning it is a better partner for small tools players than companies like Oracle, which doesn’t know how to play nice with the other boys and girls. Under the agreement, users of Omnis’ eponymous Omnis Studio product will have their data access component Omnis Cache swapped out for the IBM product; pricing is still not available. The news comes as Omnis continues its slow recovery from the brink of disaster as a developer of crossware ActiveX and JavaBean component based software. In its first 1998 fiscal quarter, announced in July, the company saw a 20% year-on- year decline in revenue, to $2.4m, on losses up 48%, to $2.85m; however, the company attributes the absolute decline to the end of two large consulting projects in 1996, and also points out that quarter on quarter there has been increased revenue growth. Ahead of the news Omnis shares closed yesterday well under $1.00, being at one time just under $0.80 (23/32nds), but may well be boosted by the formal announcement of the link Tuesday.
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