Informix and Ardent recently signed an agreement stating their intentions to merge. They hope to complete the merger during the first quarter of 2000.

THE HURWITZ TAKE: Informix, for more than two years now, has been building up its offerings in data warehousing as part of the Decision Frontier product line. Informix built some products in-house, such as the Extended Parallel Server (XPS) for warehousing. It acquired other products such as the Informix Red Brick Decision Server. Still other products came into Decision Frontier from partners; for example, Informix has been reselling Ardent's DataStage (a tool for data extraction and transformation) for almost two years.

Informix has been building up cash reserves for the purpose of expanding its product offerings through acquisition. As data movement and integration infrastructure have become core to Informix's business, Informix needs to develop products for these purposes in-house instead of getting them from partners. So it's no surprise that Informix is acquiring Ardent. Furthermore, it's a safe bet that Informix will make similar purchases in the next few quarters.

As with most mergers, some products overlap. Informix's acquisition of Red Brick included a product for data extraction and transformation called Formation. However, Formation is still young in its life cycle and is designed specifically for populating marts in the Informix Red Brick Decision Server. DataStage, on the other hand, is a mature and feature- rich tool for data extraction and transformation that is designed to serve the multiplatform data movement needs of a large enterprise. Hence, Formation and DataStage are clearly differentiated products that serve different users.

Of course, Ardent offers more than DataStage. For example, the Dovetail product is a meta data management hub known for its ability to read meta data from many sources and map it to many targets. Dovetail will contribute to Informix's strategy of providing an integration infrastructure for e-Business.

But enough about data warehousing. The greatest impact of the Informix/Ardent merger is that the newly expanded Informix will produce over a billion dollars per year in revenue. Breaking a billion would position Informix to capture greater market share than Sybase and would tip the balance of power in the database market.

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