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Informix Dynamic Server Entices New Users with Free Production Edition



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IBM has invested heavily in new features of a leaner and meaner Informix V11.7 that is scalable, more reliable, easier to use, and very fast.


With the increased interest in AIX on Power, the question eventually arises as to which database the user plans to run. IBM i has DB2 built into the OS, but when you install AIX, you have to go shopping for a database. According to IBM, many AIX users have opted for Oracle. Presumably, this is because the applications they wish to run—such as an ERP solution—are designed to run on Oracle. One could also choose to run DB2 on AIX instead of Oracle. However, there is another choice that might be even more appealing, and that is Informix. You can download, install, and run a robust production version for free.


IBM bought the database technology and about 100,000 users from Informix in 2001 and then acquired the remaining tools and applications four years later with the acquisition of Ascential Software Corp. In effect, IBM has had two leading exceptional enterprise database products since then, but you rarely hear about Informix since the company is so busy marketing DB2. Yet Informix is top-tier in the eyes of many of its users, who cite it for being reliable, flexible, scalable, easy to use, highly autonomic, and extremely fast.


If you want to create a sizeable data warehouse, Informix on AIX on Power just might be the ticket. High-volume online transaction processing also does well when the data is stored in Informix, which has so many bells and whistles—beyond just being fast—that we will not even begin to list them all. The other market that IBM likes to target with Informix is that of embedded, or integrated, applications where the database is shipped as part of an ISV solution. That's really matchless, but the fact is, Informix is or can be just about anything you might want it to be in the enterprise in terms of size, reliability, scalability, and speed.


Today, there is even a new application modernization suite called IBM Informix Genero that allows users to easily convert existing Informix-4GL green-screen applications into ones with modern graphical interfaces through a simple recompile. The toolset, a co-development project between IBM and Four Js, also can modernize the design and ergonomics of an existing application so that the application has cross-platform user interface support. It's truly a write-once, run-anywhere solution based on the Informix Business Development Language, and it's highly compatible with earlier Informix-4GL applications. PHP applications run well on Informix, and IBM has suggested it's free Innovator-C Edition is a viable alternative to MySQL for small workgroups.


There currently are two free versions of Informix Dynamic Server (current V11.7) that you can download and run on-premise at no charge, and two more versions are available on the Amazon EC2 cloud. These latter two aren't free, but a smaller instance costs 39 cents an hour to use, and a larger instance 66 cents per hour.


For the record, let's list the main versions of Informix, most of which, by the way, run on a wide array of operating systems, from AIX to Solaris, to Windows, and even Mac OS X.

  • IBM Informix Innovator-C Edition (no cost)
  • IBM Informix Developer Edition (no cost)
  • IBM Informix Choice Edition for Windows and Mac OS X
  • IBM Informix Growth Edition
  • IBM Informix Ultimate Edition (90-day trial)
  • IBM Informix Growth Warehouse Edition with Informix Warehouse Accelerator (IWA)
  • IBM Informix Ultimate Warehouse Edition with IWA (90-day trial)


The two free editions have server processor and memory limits, but Innovator-C can be used in a production environment and offers unlimited data storage. It even has some high availability, automatic backup, and clustering features. The Developer Edition is for development and test only, but it has every feature of the most robust version of Informix. The versions that are neither free nor offer a 90-day trial by download can generally be obtained on a trial basis from your IBM sales representative.


IBM has added many new features to Informix in the past two versions to enhance both its scalability and flexibility. That it remains the somewhat unrecognized stepchild to DB2 is just another marketing mystery of the corporate mind at IBM. I'm more of the mold that if you've got it, flaunt it. But discreet management of its conservative client base is what distinguishes IBM, and the company's financial results speak for themselves.


The company also is wise enough, however, to know that the next generation of computing enthusiasts is going to look at the performance statistics and costs of its database options and go with what makes sense both on paper and at the test bench. IBM therefore has launched the Informix on Campus program through the IBM Academic Initiative to provide college instructors with teaching materials in the form of "Informix in a Box," which includes PowerPoint presentations, recorded training, DVDs, and virtual appliance computing images, not to mention T-shirts for the kids. And for readers who are working not on their first, but their second, careers, the company also has an extensive curriculum of courses available directly from IBM.


To download a copy of the free IBM Informix Innovator-C Edition, click here (registration is required). To visit the MC Press Bookstore and review the book Administering Informix Dynamic Server by Carlton Doe, click here or Informix Dynamic Server Application Development by Jacques Roy, click here.

Chris Smith

Chris Smith was the Senior News Editor at MC Press Online from 2007 to 2012 and was responsible for the news content on the company's Web site. Chris has been writing about the IBM midrange industry since 1992 when he signed on with Duke Communications as West Coast Editor of News 3X/400. With a bachelor's from the University of California at Berkeley, where he majored in English and minored in Journalism, and a master's in Journalism from the University of Colorado, Boulder, Chris later studied computer programming and AS/400 operations at Long Beach City College. An award-winning writer with two Maggie Awards, four business books, and a collection of poetry to his credit, Chris began his newspaper career as a reporter in northern California, later worked as night city editor for the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, and went on to edit a national cable television trade magazine. He was Communications Manager for McDonnell Douglas Corp. in Long Beach, Calif., before it merged with Boeing, and oversaw implementation of the company's first IBM desktop publishing system there. An editor for MC Press Online since 2007, Chris has authored some 300 articles on a broad range of topics surrounding the IBM midrange platform that have appeared in the company's eight industry-leading newsletters. He can be reached at