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Monday, April 8, 2013

What's the hottest new feature in Informix 12.10?

In the next edition of IBM Data Mag (http://ibmdatamag.com/), Lester Knutsen gives us a quick overview of the new Informix version 12.10 Grid Query feature. This, I think, is the hot new feature!  Lester refers the feature back to a similar XPS feature that allowed one to distribute a database across many servers and issue queries to the entire group of servers treating the entire distributed data set as a single database.  "Can't I do that with any RDBMS that supports distributed queries?", you may ask.  The simple answer is, "Yes, you can."  But it is not simple.  

What every serious RDBMS  can do

All major RDBMS's can allow you to query multiple servers using a UNION or UNION ALL to create a query that will gather the data from multiple servers.  So, what's so new in Informix v12.10? Go read Lester's article when it comes out in a couple of weeks for details.  It is really cool.

Why do we care?

In 2000, Informix Corp. leaked that it was working on a project to merge the high transaction rate and full ACID support in Informix Dynamic Server 7.31 and the Object Relational and expansion features of Informix Universal Server 9.30 with  the distributed nearly unlimited database and distributed query shared nothing capabilities of Informix eXtended Parallel Server (XPS) to create the ultimate database server in a project that Informix called Arrowhead. It didn't happen.  It didn't happen, not because the technology and the expertise were not there, but because a year later, in late 2001, Informix Corporation's database assets were purchased by IBM and the Arrowhead project was squashed.  

Since then, for nearly twelve years now, IBM, much to its own confusion, has been diligently improving the Informix database server.  For many of those twelve years Informix fans have asked IBM repeatedly when they might resurrect Arrowhead.  The answer has always been the same, "Never.  It's never going to happen."

Well, good news.  Like it or not, Grid Queries may not be the original technical design of Arrowhead, but along with the features added in Informix v11.xx that have long existed in XPS, conceptually and usability wise, Arrowhead is alive and well and it is here today!

This is a game changer.  Now transactions against OLTP tables can happen locally on a local server and only tables that affect other locations (so lookup tables, inventory and warehouse levels, shipping manifests, etc.) have to be replicated using ER/GRID and the national, regional, and company wide reporting that requires access to all of the data can get it simply and quickly.  

With the Informix Warehouse Accelerator included in Informix Advanced Enterprise Edition, even complex Business Intelligence/Analytical processing can be performed on the massive distributed data sets using up-to-the-minute data (no ELT/ETL, Cube loading, or data summarization delay) gathered simply from the entire corporate server grid.  Add to that Informix Cluster Grid's ability to cluster, replicate, and distribute data across heterogeneous servers and we have access to power and technology that no organization not using Informix can get.  Not from anyone else anywhere!  It will take decades before the industry Ninja will be able to tack on anything remotely like IBM Informix's Grid Query technology and then it will be a massive cludge.

I'm stoked!  See you all in San Diego in two weeks to hear more about all this!