Happy 10th Anniversary to IBM and Informix

Ten years later, it’s still the technology that matters

Two of the biggest days in my professional life occurred in 2001. On April 24, IBM announced it was buying the assets of the database operation of Informix Corporation, including software and personnel. On July 1, the transfer of the assets to IBM was completed. How have the last 10 years been for the Informix world?

I know what most of you think is coming next. You’re thinking that I’m about to go off on a rant about the IBM® Informix® database being just one of many products at IBM, and how much different that is from the old Informix Corporation, which revolved around one main product, and how Informix is now lost in a sea of more than 1,000 software products with almost no advertising.

And maybe there’s a part of me that would like to say that. But here’s the thing: it doesn’t matter. When you pick a technology product, you don’t buy it for the marketing. You buy it for what needs and problems you have to solve. And when it comes to technology and Informix, IBM has put its money where its mouth is, and Informix is still way out in front.

In fact, let’s call it what it is: complete and utter domination. It’s possible that Informix has produced more successful technological milestones in the last 10 years than in the 20 before IBM bought it. It’s been released on more platforms (and with fewer bugs) faster than ever before. The Informix technology team has truly outdone itself, from creating one of the fastest and most reliable online transaction processing (OLTP) engines out there to developing the latest Ultimate Warehouse Edition.

Back in 1984, when I first heard of Informix, my company went to see what the industry had to offer. We set up tests that fit what we were trying to accomplish, and we chose the product that best met our needs. I am absolutely convinced that if we had to do the same tests for the same situation today, Informix would still be the product we would pick.

This past May, the fourth annual IIUG Informix Conference had more than 85 tech sessions. As I read through the conference surveys, it seems we were a big hit. Dr. David Ferrucci, the principal investigator for the recent IBM Watson™ platform's Jeopardy! project, was a keynote speaker. I was concerned about starting his keynote late in the afternoon, thinking that people would have only dinner on their minds. Boy was I wrong. David’s session went long, but nobody wanted to leave. We just sat there and listened. This was truly an eye-opening session. Thank you, David, for coming to speak and thank you, Ambuj Goyal, for helping us get David. And most of all, congratulations to David on your success with this project and on becoming an IBM Fellow.

Congratulations are also in order to the four newest members of the IBM 2011 Information Champions club from the Informix community: Andrew Ford, David Link, Bruce Simms, and Kernoal Stephens. For more on the champions, visit

Finally, it was more than five years ago when my phone rang with a call from a buddy of mine, David Beulke, who was president of the International DB2 Users Group (IDUG). David said that someone from some IBM magazine wanted to know if I would write an article about Informix. I talked to the editor and took on the task. I mean, what did I know about writing? I still don’t know much, but have had some great editors. Well, the rest is history as one article turned into a regular column—and a regular headache for the editors of this magazine dealing with me. So my last thank you is to David Beulke for making me do something I never thought I could do and sharing these pages with me every quarter. Next time we are together, the drinks are on me.