Promise Drives Informix to New Market

Since its takeover of Red Brick Systems, Informix Corp. has promised to remain committed to Red Brick Warehouse. This claim, as well as corporate plans to move into the e-commerce space, has kept Informix busy for the past few months.

At the end of April, with the release of MetaCube 4.2., Informix announced the full integration of Red Brick Warehouse as the data mart component in the Informix Decision Frontier Solution Suite, a best-of-breed grouping of integrated data warehouse products. Informix is using its own MetaCube ROLAP tool to take advantage of Red Brick Warehouse -- a move consistent with Informix's commitment to Red Brick.

Recently, Informix announced the next generation of Informix Red Brick Warehouse, version 5.1.7. Code-named Spiderman, the version is expected to provide customers with Web-analytic capabilities that are tailored for e-commerce applications. The enhancements include tools that give users behavior-based customer information that is gathered in real time.

Spiderman will maintain Red Brick's position as an analytic data mart platform while extending its use as an analytic e-commerce tool, according to Informix. Spiderman will be the underlying analytic portion of Informix's e-commerce solution -- powering customer relationship management capabilities and "click-stream" Web-behavioral analysis. Spiderman is due out later this year.

Informix is trying to break into e-commerce on other fronts as well. Sometime during the middle of this year, Informix is expected to introduce a new Internet extensible data engine with application functionality. Code-named Centaur, the Internet-ready data engine is supposed to integrate sever-managed data with Java and COM+ server programmability. Informix says Centaur, part of the company’s flagship Informix Dynamic Server database, has the ability to host scalable Internet application development and deployment for e-commerce applications. The product is also expected to offer equal support for both Microsoft and Unix application development standards.

The move into the Internet space with Red Brick Warehouse and other Informix products may not come easy. "While there is a big need for that, and it could be a big sell for Informix to move into that space, the people that need e-commerce data warehouse technology are slow to do it," says Mitch Kramer, an analyst at Patricia Seybold Group (

Because Informix has positioned itself as a top-end solutions provider, it also may be tough for them to break into a market where e-commerce sites still need a lot of work. "Informix might be too early," Kramer says.

But Informix is committed to Red Brick and to entering the e-commerce arena. It is not surprising, Kramer says, "E-commerce is one of the highest grossing markets now."