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How Informix can fit Your Database Needs

Think beyond Db2 when evaluating databases.

When most people hear that an IBM database is being evaluated, they naturally think of Db2. While that may be a natural reflex of sorts, IBM has expanded its database offerings over the years with Informix, Netezza and Cloudant—the first of which will be discussed in this article. Why use Informix and what does it do for you? How has it evolved and what is it today? These are just some of the topics we’ll review here.

Informix was originally created in 1980 by Relational Database Systems. In 1986, the company changed its name to Informix Corporation. It was during this time that the company grew rapidly as the market for Unix and SQL starting taking hold. Informix acquired Red Brick Systems in 1998, which was a data warehouse company, and then was acquired by IBM in 2001. In 2017, IBM and HCL technologies agreed to a 15-year partnership to co-develop and support the product.

Informix is perhaps best known best for being used in high transaction OLTP application environments. In recent years it has been enhanced to support the largest of data warehouse workloads. The current version of Informix is 12.10.

There are many different flavors of Informix available to you, which include:

  • IBM Informix Advanced Workgroup Edition: This version is designed for the small to midsize businesses looking for a turnkey data warehousing solution. It’s limited to 16 cores and 48 GB of RAM. This edition also includes Informix Warehouse Accelerator (IWA), which provides for development and deployment with almost limitless scalability.
  • Informix Enterprise condition: This includes all the available features of the Workgroup Edition, with unlimited scalability and full grid and replication capacities. It also offers Storage compression as an optional feature.
  • Informix Express Edition: This product is tailor-made for application and third party developers that are looking to embed a DB within their application. It can be used in environments that only require basic functionality and limited scalability. This edition is limited to 4 cores and 8 GB of RAM. Replication itself is limited to two nodes.
  • IBM Informix Developer Edition: This edition is made for individual application development and testing at no charge. It allows you to develop and test C, C++, Ruby and Rules, Perl and 4GL applications. This edition is limited to one CPU, 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of storage.
  • Informix Hypervisor Edition: This edition is based on Open Virtualization Format (OVF) and optimized for PureApplication Systems or IBM Workload Deployer. It provides DBAs with a foundation to manage database applications within virtualize environments.

All editions of Informix include the following client tools:

  1. IBM Informix Client SDK, which includes APIs for developing applications and providing client connectivity.
  2. Informix DataBlade Developers Kit (DBDK), which provides you with the tools to develop and package DataBlade modules. These are software packages which extend the capabilities of the database server itself.
  3. IBM OpenAdmin tool (OAT), which is a web application to help you administer and analyze the performance of the DB servers.

Informix and the Cloud

Not only is Informix available on the cloud; the product is truly optimized for this environment. Deploying Informix on the cloud provides you all the rich features of their on premise solution, without the cost of having to maintain your own Infrastructure. It also integrates with TimeSeries, NoSQL, Spatial and SQL, with easy access via MQTT, REST and MongoDB APIs. It’s delivered as an Infrastructure as a Service and provides entitlements to Informix Warehouse accelerator, which gives you the ability to configure memory query acceleration for predictive analytics. IBM will provide you with an initially configured server that is yours to tailor however you wish.

It also offers the Informix Flexible Grid, which enables one to schedule upgrades or do maintenance with no downtime and without having to use temporary hardware or clone your database. Capacity is as limited as you are, you scale when it is needed. It also offers Predictive Analysis and is configured for roughest of OLTP workloads. A new feature of Informix Dynamic Server 12.10.Xc10 is the ability to store backups directly to the ecosystems of Amazon S3 and IBM Softlayer Object Storage Cloud services provides. There are other plans available, too, which allow businesses of litteraly any size to access this database server. If you have a Bluemix account already, you would simply select IBM Informix on a cloud and select from their four plans: Small, Medium, Large and Extra Large. The small, medium and large plans are on a VM, while the extra-large plan is on a bare metal system.

Internet of Things (IoT)

IBM is heavily marketing Informix as the right database for IoT architectures, and they are spot on. What is IoT? Simply put, it’s a network of physical devices which have the software that allow them to connect and exchange the data. The reliability, ease of use and low TCO make Informix an ideal solution for loT.

There are many challenges in implementing this type of solution. Scalability is one of them. There could be thousands of devices in any given environment. Data volume is another challenge, as there are many types of data which have to be managed together. Informix is well-suited for IoT because of its flexibly, resilience and scalability. It can integrate many different types of data types. It offers a hybrid database system, which allows you to integrate SQL with NoSQL/ JSON data. It further allows developers to place JSON and relational tables in the same storage engine. Database footprint is also key. The solution itself must be able to fit into small devices and maintain strong performance without having to tune the DB constantly, which is simply not practical in an loT environment. Informix has the small footprint and its self-manning, self-tuning capabilities make it ideal as an embedded platform. Because of its flexibility, it works with most OSes, chip sets and cloud environments.

Informix is an outstanding product that has continued to thrive and innovate through the years—and is still constantly evolving today. There are many editions available to you, including a free version [ ] that you can try tomorrow and start using in minutes! It’s available in the cloud and is the only database that allows different hardware and OSes from cluster to cluster in a distributed environment. Not only that, it’s tailor-made for the most demanding of IoT environments. When you’re ready to look at databases, make sure you look at Informix!



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