Friday, November 9, 2012

Dynamite Roll

On my way to work this morning, there was a news story on the radio about a new cologne called Sushi. The product description explains this unique product:
Not what you think it would smell like! Demeter's Sushi is the fresh scent of just cooked sticky rice and straight from the seaside seaweed, laced with hints of ginger and lemon essences. Simply delectable... after all, if it smelledlike fish, would you wear it?
This reminded me of an old joke about Informix Software (the company) and how they marketed their products:
If Informix sold sushi, they would call it cold, dead fish.
Now, I know that joke has been told many times for many different companies, but the first time I heard the joke it was in reference to Informix so for me, they get to own the joke.

I then started to think about two troubling conversations I recently had.

The first was with someone who emailed me at asking if I knew of any Informix consultants looking for a short term gig. During our conversation he wanted to ask some questions about Informix since he finally found a "real human in Informix-land" he could talk to. That statement itself is pretty sad to hear, I wonder if he ever has any trouble finding real life Oracle, SQL Server or MySQL humans to talk to? Doubt it, but Chetu Pap can't seem to find anyone to fill his Oracle positions since he keeps posting them in the Informix DB LinkedIn group, so maybe I'm wrong. Anyway, here are the 3 questions he asked.

Is Informix in active use today?

I answered yes and without naming names (can we name names?) I told him about how Informix was still being used all over the world from large retail stores down to smaller sized companies like the one I work for. Yes, Informix is in active use today.

Is IBM supporting it?

I answered yes and went into the major releases from 9.4 to 10.0 to 11.1 to 11.5 to vNext that is in the works and the new fix packs that are released every quarter and the emergency releases and patch releases that are available in between fix packs and the amazing job that Informix support does when I call with a question. Yes, IBM is very much supporting Informix.

Is it generally hard to find an Informix resource to deal with a legacy system?

I don't know, I am not usually looking for Informix resources, but I do know they come to our conferences and I see them on the Informix SIGs and there are companies out there that sell Informix consulting. Hey, what do you mean by LEGACY SYSTEM anyway? I threw up in my mouth a little bit.

The second conversation was with my twenty-something year old brother in law. He's a really smart kid finishing up his Computer Science degree at the University of Texas at Austin and had been working as a research assistant with a professor of his doing something with Oracle. We're talking about his job and my job and he flat out asks me, "Is Informix dead or what? I told my professor that you were an Informix DBA and he says nobody uses that anymore." More vomiting ensued.

I'm no longer on the IIUG Board of Directors, so I don't get to meet with the IBM executives and marketing people and hear about what is being done to fix these perceptions. I do know that IBM is a very generous Platinum Sponsor of the IIUG conferences and if I google Informix there was an Adwords ad for some Informix marketing stuff and if I go to there are a lot of things about TimeSeries, Genero, Warehouse Accelerator and Blink and there was/is the Academic Initiative to help promote Informix in the university and I get the newsletter from Tom, but what else is being done? Is it enough?

Maybe the push is in other areas of the world and I'm just not seeing it. Are you in another part of the world and seeing anything?

There is a comments section, leave one if you've seen something or email me at If you work for IBM Marketing/Advertising and would like me to talk about the good things you are doing, email me and I'll be glad to post them.

I know Informix is actively being used and I know Informix is continuously being improved, why doesn't the rest of the world know too?


  1. I hear it all the time just from the Oracle guys, so I think waves goes from that side

    1. I hear it from everyone except the Informix fanatics, not just Oracle folks. Oracle most definitely will continue to push this perception because of bragging rights for winning the database wars and it helps their database sales. I think IBM also suffers from the strategy of marketing the IBM brand and not individual products more than Oracle does, at least as databases go. When you see an Oracle (the company) ad, I automatically think "database" even though they sell many different things (servers, operating systems, consulting, etc). When I see an IBM ad I don't think "database", I think PCs or mainframe. This is why I think it the perception of Informix being dead continues despite a tremendous effort from development and support to improve and enhance the product.

  2. Well... I don't think we can do much individually to change this "perception".
    This happens with Informix and a lot of other stuff... It's strange, but with all this free information and communication it seems even harder to push something that is not "mainstream".
    The blogs as this one are important. Yesterday there was a webcast with the title "Informix: Why not?". Strangely enough it references names, uses etc. You can find it on Youtube (I have a direct link on my blog).

    I don't think Informix will ever be "mainstream". On the other hand, we've been hearing news from it's dead for more than 10 years...
    Let's keep posting, keep twiting, keep using, keep talking.

    Recently I've seen several "newcomers" to Informix land... that's good news. And some of them are surprised because they had that "perception" and are seeing it doesn't match reality.

    1. I agree that there isn't much more we can do individually to change this perception. There are some good bloggers out there like yourself doing what they can to get people talking about Informix, the IIUG has revived the Informix conference after a many year hiatus, the forums are active and the install base is very loyal, vocal and dedicated to the product.

      Informix won't be mainstream with the current direction, but I don't understand why it can't be back in the mainstream. Honestly, it is the best engine available. Informix just blows the doors off the competition in regards to functionality, reliability, cost of ownership and performance. People are picking SQL Server over Informix, really? What is wrong with these people? Is Informix still suffering from the FUD put out 10 years ago about it being killed off or is IBM just happy with where Informix is and not really looking to grow the install base?

      It is good to see the newcomers, we need a lot more of them. I'd be interested to hear how they became newcomers. Are they new Informix installs or just new hires maintaining a "legacy system" (puke) as a secondary role of their main job as one of 10 Oracle DBAs responsible for keeping 1 engine running.

    2. The cases I know personally were of two types:
      - "old" systems that need more people because they're very "active"
      - systems that started without DBAs and found they need to have people with some time dedicated to Informix

      But there were several questions / requests in the mailing list.
      Maybe IIUG could run a survey?...
      I also noticed an increase in the blog's page views... This has been a very active year for me in terms of blogging (compared to several others), but I really don't know if that's the reason...

  3. Hello guys I have been using informix 7.x and there after I left informix due to the market trend into Oracle/DB2/SQL Server
    To be precise thorought the Jurney I found nothing works like Informix once it begin working it never stops no error no issues just maintain it I must say a good job by Informix.
    Now the reason I am postin ghere that yes I support what you said IBM means Server/PC that was the only reason I thought this is end of the ERA for Informix in 7.x but plese dont forget IBM also has high end consultancy for the mainframe but unfortunately they are all into high level with the Government of with CA(Computer Associates) which is not known to us but if IBM include Informix into that arena it will escalate to one sector and likewise how IBM are giving away DB2 with their Maximo bundle simiilar strategy with RedHat Linux would pay back to the IBM and to the Informix This is just a way to explore possibilities

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