Oracle, Microsoft's SQL Server, and IBM's own DB2 have extensive data warehousing capabilities built in or available as add-on packages. Informix was once the fourth-largest database vendor, behind IBM, Oracle, and Sybase. IBM acquired it in 2001 for $1 billion, maintaining the database server as an independent product line, but it lagged the field in data warehousing aspects.
IBM said Thursday that the optional Informix Warehouse Feature is now available and can be used to store and analyze data from Informix transaction systems. In effect, Informix customers don't have to turn to DB2 in order to get data warehousing capabilities with the IBM nameplate on them.
Informix users need not only transaction performance but also a system that allows them "a deeper understanding of the data that is generated from the global enterprise," said Arvind Krishna, VP of worldwide information management development, in the announcement.
Informix runs on Windows, Linux, and Unix servers, including both IBM's AIX and Sun Microsystems' Solaris/Sparc. The Data Warehouse Feature includes tools for building data warehouses, and the nature of the tools suggests Informix data warehouses might have a more real-time quality than the traditional, historical data warehouse.
The feature includes such things as tools for setting the parameters of the database for supporting decision support systems; creating parallel queries for rapid execution in a decision support environment; and creating quick, sequential table scans, a data-hunting tactic often used in decision support environments.
Informix is used by eight of the top 10 U.S. retailers, said Krishna. The data warehouse capabilities will help them unlock patterns and trends in their data as they use Informix to conduct their business, as opposed to exporting the data to another system for warehousing and analytics.
In addition, IBM now has the Cognos decision support and data analysis system capable of sitting on top of different data warehouses.
Column-store databases and appliances are another solution. InformationWeek has published an independent analysis of this topic. Download the report here (registration required).