IBM completes Informix database buy

IBM has sealed its $US 1 billion acquisition of US database company Informix, confident that the deal will turn upthe heat on rival vendor Oracle, currently sitting in the top spot of the distributed database systems market.

Peter Graham, IBM Australia/NZ regional manager of DB2, claimed the deal would double Big Blue's Unix and WindowsNT worldwide business, making IBM the only alternative to Oracle in this space.

"The distributed database market is a two-horse race now," he said. "Our e-business strategy through our softwareand databases is there to boost us to leadership position."

While Graham acknowledged that market leader Oracle held the lion's share of the overall database software market -33.8 per cent globally, according the latest Gartner Dataquest figures - he said IBM would bump up its current market share of 30.1 per cent to 33.1 per cent by acquiring Informix.

Marc Dupaquier, vice president worldwide of IBM's software group and data management sales, told Computerworld Australia's sister publication Le Monde Informatique (France) in April, that IBM eyed Informix for a buyout becauseof its faithful installed base.

"[Informix's] customers - traditionally in telecommunication, distribution and government - were worried about thefuture of the company, but were satisfied with its products. When Informix separated its activities, groupingtogether decision management tools in Ascential, we began to study the possibility of an acquisition. The reactionsof the big clients that we met, in the US and Europe, were very positive: they didn't want to migrate to Oracle,and they were afraid that a company might buy Informix and kill off its product."

Local Gartner analysts called the deal a big win for IBM, saying the buyout will lend IBM considerable value-add interm of business data mining tools that IBM can use to complement DB2, IBM's flagship database engine.

Nearly all of Informix's 2,500 database employees will be offered positions with IBM globally. 400 of thosestaffers - a mix of developers, services, technical and sales people - are from the Asia Pacific, with all butthree employees agreeing to move to Informix, Watson said, refusing to elaborate.

Meanwhile, an IBM Australia spokesperson said he was frustrated by what he called Oracle's attempts to throw cheapshots at IBM like a pricing competition - waged through the launch of flagship database product Oracle 91 - whenit announced the deal in April, calling Oracle's behaviour unfair.

"We're just focused on producing a great product for the database market that's functional and cost competitive,and at the end of the day, that's what's going to [boost] our market share," he said.

The company was reluctant to comment on IBM's expected revenues from data management alone over the next year, onlysaying that the value of the deal in itself was a significant portion of IBM's annual worldwide revenue forsoftware sales ($US12 billion).

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