IIUG World 2019

IIUG 2020 Online World Conference Presentations will begin soon!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

IIUG World 2018

https://lnkd.in/d6siP7Y I will be presenting two sessions at the 2018 IIUG World Conference in Arlington, Virginia outside Washington DC next week. The first session is "Hello! Your data is calling!" where I will be presenting about the new "Smart Triggers" feature of Informix which allows users to create applications that passively receive notification when data in a registered table is modified. The second session is "Uninterruptable transactions with Informix!" in which I will demonstrate the Informix Transaction Survival feature that will allow active transactions to survive the crash of the primary server in a high availability or remote secondary cluster environment.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Looks like Oracle is worried about Informix again!

OMG, it looks like Oracle is beginning to worry about Informix! Why would I say that? Isn't Oracle "The world's most popular database!"? Why should they worry?

I dunno, but in February Oracle announced v18c (actually v12.2 but read on). This latest release of Oracle implements tons of features that have been in Informix for up to 28 years! The need to compete with Informix on features again seems to have surfaced!

Not to tout Oracle, but to point out how forward thinking the Informix development team is, witness:

  • Annual major releases with quarterly updates. To celebrate they have renamed v12.2 to be v18c after the year of its release. One assumes that the Q1 release next year will be v19c.
  • Ability to attach a table to another table as a partition - was that Informix 7.31?
  • All identifiers have been increased from 30 bytes to 128 bytes - Informix v7.30 circa 1998
  • Multitenancy
  • JSON support including dot notation in queries
    • Functions for converting table data to JSON
    • JSON operators in SQL queries
    • New API to allow JSON aware languages to query Oracle JSON documents
    • Ability to update fields within JSON documents
  • RAC based Database Sharding - well sort of. A shared RAC database can have its data segregated so that nodes only operate on a subset of the data. But it is still a monolithic store.
  • NonRAC based Database Sharding - well sort of. Applications must be shard aware. Inserts, updates, and deletes are directed to the appropriate shard in the API layer, not within the database server shard cluster.
  • "Connection Manager" enhanced to manage load balancing between multiple servers. Originally this was closer to Informix Connection Multiplexer feature.
  • Application Continuity - This is similar to Informix's Transaction Survival allowing transactions to complete when a server fails.
  • Session private temporary tables - Informix v4.01 the initial release of Informix Online circa 1990?
  • New Oracle autonomic features to allow for unmanaged cloud databases.

Monday, March 5, 2018

What are reasons to migrate away from Informix?

OK, I haven't lost my mind. I have been active on a social media site called Quora where people ask questions on just about any topic. Some are technical, some are social, some are just annoying. Recently someone asked the question above. Eric Vercelletto posted one answer and I posted another. Here is an expanded version of my response for your amusement.

The single most common reason to migrate away from Informix is FUD. Other RDBMS vendors have been spreading the FUD that Informix is dead legacy technology since the IBM acquisition in 2001 and that has resulted in many shops moving away from an RDBMS that had successfully supported their organizations for many years. Unfortunately IBM was one of the worst offenders. IBM sales people seeing dollar signs in their vision, if they sold new DB2 licenses instead of an Informix license renewal at 20% of the price, told customers the same thing "Don't stick with Informix it is going away!". That’s the main “reason”.

What are reasons to NOT migrate away from Informix? Well, the truth is that Informix is not a dead legacy technology. In the 16 years since IBM bought Informix the database from Informix Corp. IBM has made more improvements and innovations to the product than Informix itself had in the prior 18 years since the company started. Today Informix is still the best OLTP engine on the market. The Informix Warehouse Accelerator feature handles complex data warehouse queries against massive data marts several hundred times faster than any RDBMS, even faster than its sister product DB2 Blue Accelerator. Informix is the only RDBMS that can not only handle semi-structured JSON/BSON data as native data but can seamlessly integrate MongoDB style collections with relational tables and serve as a plug-in replacement for MongoDB extending that API with access to relational tables (as JSON results), generic SQL statements, and working reliable ACID transactions that include relational and JSON data today (Mongo promises to have its brand new ACID transaction feature ready next year). Informix timeseries support is as good as any dedicated timeseries database with the added benefit that Informix’s Virtual Table Interface allows one to present timeseries data to analytical tools that do not understand timeseries as if it were a flat relational table. Informix was the first RDBMS to fully support scale out sharding to create huge distributed databases spread across dozens or hundreds of physical servers build over heterogeneous technologies from different vendors.

On to other topics

Since taking over development and marketing of Informix and a number of other IBM software products last year, HCL has been more concerned with getting its ducks in a row and so little new or exciting has come out of HCL's Informix development group. Version 12.10.xC9, the first full release developed completely under HCL's auspices, did introduce smart triggers which is a good thing.

That said, version 12.10.xC10 actually included several new features and improvements:

  • added compression of blobspace BLOB data, 
  • backup to cloud storage services, 
  • the ability to swap primary and mirror chunks which can allow us to upgrade a server's storage to faster devices with no downtime, 
  • new sysmaster data and onstat options to help identify unused and little used indexes, 
  • the ability to retain data distributions and other statistics when truncating a table (useful for staging tables that are truncated and reloaded periodically), 
  • the ability to reconnect to a smart trigger session without missing data when an application exits and restarts, 
  • expanded audit details about sessions and users, 
  • added compression of string fields in timeseries subtypes, 
  • expanded geodetic data support for additional coordinate systems (x,y coordinates; GPS; industry specific coordinates).

There are two updates to the IBM online Knowledge Center pages about Smart Triggers:

Generic information about how to register for Smart Trigger Push Data:


JDBC API for Smart Triggers:


Other than this the online Knowledge Center pages have also lagged. Also there has not been a new set of Informix PDF documentation since 12.10.xC8. I do put the onus for the documentation SNAFU firmly on the shoulders of IBM, though, not HCL because after transferring responsibility for the software to HCL IBM disbanded the Informix documentation team without informing HCL that they might want to take that effort over as well. I think that this issue is in the process of being resolved.

Big Announcement

Over this past weekend, HCL announced that Informix instances are now available on AWS, the Amazon Cloud. There are dozens of different configurations that will cost from pennies an hour to six dollar figures per annum to meet the needs of organizations from startups to large enterprises. If you are considering moving your databases to the clouds, there are now alternatives to the IBM cloud for Informix users. HCL promises other major cloud providers will become available soon.