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9/22/2006
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IBM To Unleash The Next Informix IDS Release

Code-named Cheetah, the new release is due to beta this spring and will feature record-level locking and federal security certifications, including Evaluation Assurance Levels 3 and 4.

True to its word, IBM continues to update the Informix IDS database, a cult favorite among some database VARs and customers.

The next release, code-named Cheetah, is due to beta this spring and will feature record-level locking, technology carried over from the latest release of IBM DB2, said Arvind Krishna, vice president of database servers for IBM Software's Information Management Group, Somers, N.Y.

IBM is also making sure the new release will win federal security certifications including the Evaulation Assurance Levels 3 and 4.

The current IDS Version 10 Release Change 5—IDS uses its own release terminology—offers row-level and column-level locking. IDS has long been known for its extensibility, its ability to run for long periods without human intervention, and its ability to handle non-relational objectlike data.

"IDS fits really well in that space where you don't need or can't have a million DBAs. It can go into a DBA-less environment, often hub-and-spoke environments used by branches and retail operations," Krishna told CRN.

One unnamed customer runs 4,000 physical locations and more than 10,000 instances of the current IDS release with just eight DBAs, he claimed. "If you can show me an Oracle installation [doing that], I'll buy you the bottle of wine of your choice," he said.

It is also able to pack a lot of database power into a relatively small footprint and is more suited for such situations than IBM DB2. DB2 is IBM's flagship database. Cheetah will also build on IDS' ability to handle image data, cartographics, using and storing 3-D geometry.

IBM is slated to talk more about Cheetah at its Information OnDemand Conference in Anaheim, Calif., next month. Beta is expected in March or April, in time for IBM's annual PartnerWorld, he said.

IBM bought Informix and several database offerings five years ago. At the time, there was concern that it made the acquisitions to buy the customer lists but kill off the products. That has not happened, despite a lot of "FUD spread by competitors," said Ron Flannery, president of One Point Solutions, a Novi, Mich.-based IBM database partner.

Flannery said the reason IDS has retained a loyal customer base is the technology's "rock-solid" performance and the fact that IBM has continued to invest in it. "It never goes down and it's really fast," said Flannery, who is also the author of a 1,400-page IDS handbook.

"IDS is very strong in reservation systems, retail and financial apps. It's a great point-of-sale system because it never goes down once it's installed and configured correctly," he noted. Its bulletproof status, in fact, can hurt partners, he acknowledged. "Once we sell a package, do a tune-up and check the configuration, we still monitor it but it requires very little work."

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