Thursday, May 27, 2010

Need a Free Database?

On May 25th IBM announced they will be repackaging their Informix Dynamic Server offerings.

Enterprise Edition, Workgroup Edition are enjoying a well deserved retirement and have been replaced with two new options: Ultimate Edition and Growth Edition. Developer Edition, the unpaid intern, is still around.

There is a lot of good stuff going on here, previously for cost features now included at no additional cost and previously unavailable features in certain editions now included at no additional cost.

But I don't want to talk about that. I want to talk about the free stuff, the C versions.

IBM announced two additional editions, Innovator-C and Ultimate-C. I've read that C stands for Community, as in Community provided support I guess. The kind of community support one can find on comp.databases.informix and the IIUG SIGs.

These C versions are FREE and can be used in production environments. I couldn't believe it either until I saw it explicitly stated in the IBM License Information document

1) IBM Base License

This Program has been provided to Licensee at no charge.

This License Information serves as Licensee's Proof of Entitlement (PoE).

Well hot damn. So what's the catch?

Community support is free, IBM support ain't. If you want to be able to call IBM if you have a problem or question you will have to purchase some support. This is pretty reasonable.

You can't redistribute the C versions without a distribution agreement and this will probably cost money. It is OK to install a free version in your data center and build a production application on top of it, it is not OK to bundle Informix with your application and distribute it for free.

And of course there are some restrictions on the features, resources and platforms available for the C versions.

Innovator-C Edition - Available for all platforms

Maximum of 4 CPUVPs (VPCLASS cpu,num=4)
Maximum of 2GB memory allocated to Informix (SHMTOTAL 2097152)
Maximum of 2 Enterprise Replication Admin nodes
1 Read/Write HDR Server or 1 Read/Write RSS Server
No DBSpace Prioritization during backup/restore
No Recovery Time Objective Policy
No Private Memory Cache for VP
No Direct I/O for Cooked Files
No Parallel Data Query (PDQ)
No High Performance Loader (HPL)
No Parallel Index Build
No Parallel backup/restore
No Partitioning
No Column Level Encryption
No Compression
No Label based access control (LBAC)
No Last commit concurrency
No Multiple triggers and views
No Web feature service
No Node DataBlade
No Auto-gather statistics during index build
No Point-in-time table recovery
No SQL Warehouse
No Shared Disk Secondary

Ultimate-C Edition - Available on Windows and Mac OS X only

Maximum of 16 CPUVPs (VPCLASS cpu,num=16)
Maximum of 16GB memory allocated to Informix (SHMTOTAL 16777216)
1 Read/Write HDR Server or 1 Read/Write RSS Server
No Compression
No Shared Disk Secondary

If you're not familiar with Informix and you've stumbled across this blog looking for alternatives to other free database engines this may look like a scary list things you don't get. I can assure you it is not. These restrictions are a very small subset of the Informix features and none of these feature or resource restrictions should prevent you from using Innovator-C or Ultimate-C as your free database engine of choice.

One very important limitation that does NOT exist is the limitation on data size. If you have a 5 petabyte database, Innovator-C and Ultimate-C will support it.

I should say that all of this is just my interpretation of the IBM documentation on the new Informix packaging, I am not an IBMer and I could be wrong on some things, but I don't think I am.


  1. Hi Andrew. I saw this too when Jerry posed on Facebook. It is fantastic news and a huge opportunity to use IDS for real... rather than for play.

  2. Hey David! I agree, it is a great opportunity. Now we just need some people to take IBM up on their offer so they can see the light.

    I previously said Express Edition was retired, unfortunately his 401(k) has yet to recover from the Global Economic Meltdown and has decided to stick around for a while longer.

    New Informix Packaging: