Microsoft's SQL Server 7.0 (www.microsoft.com/sql/beta), complete with "free" OLAP server, probably still hasn't shipped, but the impending release had vendors jockeying for position all summer:

  • Informix (www.informix.com) offered free developer licenses of its Online Dynamic Server for NT and is shipping a "lite" version of its universal server, Informix Dynamic Server Personal Edition ($195), that runs on Win 9x or WinNT. At its July Informix International Users' Conference in Seattle, Informix also announced that the planned October shipment of a new Decision Frontier Solution Suite will include Informix Dynamic Server with both the advanced decision support (parallel server) option and MetaCube ROLAP (relational on-line dynamic processing) options along with Ardent Software's DataStage data movement and meta data management technology and Seagate Software's Crystal Info 6.0 reporting and scheduling software.
  • Sybase (www.sybase.com) continued to vigorously market SQL Adaptive Server Anywhere 6.0 as the best Java-enabled, multi-platform lean database for mobile workers-- one that can run in PDAs and WinCE devices, not just Win9x.
  • Many OLAP client (notably Cognos, www.cognos.com, and Seagate Software, www.seagatesoftware.com) and server vendors offered free downloads of beta versions of their products to test with SQL Server Beta 3.
  • Hoping to preempt Microsoft in the repository arena (SQL Server 7.0 and Visual Studio 6.0 both ship with Microsoft Repository 2.0), Oracle announced its Oracle Repository7, the newest version of its meta data repository that has been part of Oracle CASE and Oracle Designer/2000 (now called Oracle Designer 2.1) for years. Unfortunately for Oracle, Repository7 isn't supposed to be available even as beta until late 1998.
  • OLE DB seems to be reaching epidemic proportions as vendors scurry to make their products work with Microsoft's preferred method of data access (www.microsoft.com/data).

New Products

I've also run across a handful of new products that I can recommend. Benchmark Factory 97 (BF97) from Client/Server Solutions (www.csrad.com), for example, is a framework for developing and running multiple benchmarks including AS3AP, TPC-B, TPC-C, TPC-D and Wisconsin (all of which are provided with the product). BF97 can benchmark any data source that has connection software for Windows NT or Windows 95. CSS provides drivers for any ODBC data source with native drivers for Microsoft SQL Server using DBLIB, Oracle Server using OCI, DB2 using CLI, Informix using ESQL and Sybase SQL Server using CTLIB. Three versions are available, a "lite" one for $500, the standard edition for $4,995 and a full-featured version for $9,995.

PLATINUM is working on integrating ERwin 3.5.2 (starts at $3,495) with its own object-oriented Paradigm Plus 3.6 (starts at $4,000) and with the UMP-based Microsoft Repository that PLATINUM is developing for non-Windows deployment. ERwin, used at about 7,000 companies worldwide, is a Windows-only tool, but Paradigm Plus is multi-platform. Sybase's Power Designer 6.1 (www.sybase.com/ products/powerdesigner), is a powerful, modular product with new features such as model merge and test data generation, an optional data warehouse modeling module and support for database-specific features such as Oracle's abstract data types. PowerDesigner 6.1 is priced per module as follows: ProcessAnalyst, $1495; DataArchitect, $2495; WarehouseArchitect, $4995; AppModeler, $995 (standard) and $295 (desktop); MetaWorks, $995; and Viewer, $395, but can also be purchased in DataArchitect and Warehouse bundles for $4995 and $9295, respectively.

Speaking of CASE tools, don't overlook Sterling Software's impressive family of multi-platform COOL tools (www.cool.sterling.com). Sterling Software, not to be confused with independent (EDI and E-commerce firm) Sterling Commerce, is a $640 million dollar company whose enterprise application development and component-based product line pits it against a range of competitors including Rational, Cayenne, Oracle, PLATINUM and Compuware. Sterling's COOL:Biz, COOL:Gen, COOL:Spex and COOL:Jex (and now COOL:Plex and COOL:2E since Sterling recently acquired Synon Corporation) let you set up specifications, perform BPR and generate code, including Java. Sterling seems to be integrating new technologies as fast as its customers ask for them. Additionally, Sterling recently announced an agreement to acquire Cayenne Software, adding depth to its already strong data and process modeling products.

Another vendor that deserves to be better known is Template Software (www.template.com). Template Software, which had 1997 revenues of over $13 million, offers a powerful, process-centric enterprise application development environment along with "starter" templates with built-in domain and business rule knowledge. Typical NT or UNIX implementations cost $10,000-$20,000.

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