I returned from last week's International Informix Users Group Conference with some news. What kind of news it is I am not 100% certain. I am certain that it is BIG news. I am certain that it affects most of us in one way or another. I am not certain whether it is good news or bad news for the Informix user community or same-old same-old. I have been saying since I heard it that I am guardedly optimistic that this is good news.
For those of you who have not heard, IBM and a company called HCL have partnered to "jointly develop and market the Informix family of products". IBM has licensed the intellectual property rights for all Informix products to HCL for a period of at least 15 years with options for renewal. As part of the deal IBM will retain ownership but HCL will be responsible for developing the products and for tech support. Indeed HCL will be hiring all Informix developers and support personnel who are willing to make the change. (My understanding is that so far all US Informix developers and support people have agree to sign up and tentative offers have been made to the Informix folks in Europe and Asia pending government paperwork in those areas.) HCL will also be free to market and sell Informix as well as to develop "derivative products". Decisions about the product life cycle and roadmap will be made by IBM and HCL together.
What does this mean for existing customers? Immediately not much. You will still be able to renew your support and purchase additional Informix licenses from IBM. You will still call the same support phone lines or use the same online support portal. The technicians responding will simply be HCL employees and likely the same people you have been dealing with all along.
This is a link to a LinkedIn post by Mattias Funke Director Core Database & Data Warehouse Offering Management & Strategy at IBM explaining the deal: https://goo.gl/CY4nyO
HCL is a global consulting and IT software group headquartered in India with locations throughout the world. Their Product and Platform business unit which was started in September is based in New York and will manage the Informix products in addition to their own product lines which concentrate on IOT, embedded systems, and cloud computing. These are all strengths of Informix and explains HCLs interest in the partnership.
In discussions with their executives at the IIUG Conference we were told that HCL is very interested in focusing their own products on working with Informix and in making Informix THE player in the database market.
IBM's internal politics have always prevented IBM from fully embracing Informix for the market leading database that it is and this has encouraged much of the FUD intimating that Informix is a dead or dying product. HCL has no such constraints on it. Someone said at the Conference "the gloves are off!" We may even see advertising about the benefits and features of Informix. I am hopeful. The Informix community will be waiting to see how HCL follows up on these opportunities and promises and how this changes the marketplace for Informix.