IBM logo on a storage rack in a datacenter.
Image: Nikolay N. Antonov/Adobe Stock

Relational database management systems help companies in almost every industry harness and tap into the power of the information they gather, store, manage and analyze for business operations. One of the most powerful RDBMS options available today is Informix by IBM, a brand with a proven track record of stability and innovation.

SEE: Database administrator (TechRepublic Premium)

In this review of IBM Informix, we’ll discuss its key features, pros and cons, and how much it costs. We’ll also cover some of the top alternatives to IBM Informix.

Jump to:

What is IBM Informix?

IBM logo.
Image: IBM

Informix is a robust RDBMS acquired by IBM from Informix Corporation in 2001. It is a secure embeddable database that facilitates the use of Internet of Things and online transaction processing applications with high transaction rates supporting non-SQL data types. Informix works well for companies of all sizes.

SEE: Best data preparation software (TechRepublic)

Informix can handle traditional relational, object-relational and dimensional databases. Its data replication features allow you to synchronize data among heterogeneous servers and distribute SQL statements and files between servers.

The IBM Informix dashboard.
The IBM Informix dashboard.

Informix consists of several related products:

  • Informix Server
  • Informix Client Software Development Kit: A client SDK for writing applications with the included ODBC, JDBC, .NET, ESQL/C, Object Interface for C++ or OLE/DB APIs.
  • IBM OpenAdmin Tool: A web application for administering and analyzing the performance of Informix database servers.
  • Informix DataBlade Developers Kit: Tools to develop and package DataBlade modules. These are software packages that extend the functionality of the database server.
  • Informix 4GL: Programming language.
  • Informix JDBC Driver
  • IBM Informix Genero: Allows you to convert 4GL applications into more modern and rapid development environments.

The Informix database server uses a Virtual-Table Interface, a DataBlade API, access-method-specific SQL extensions and API libraries to facilitate the development of user-defined access methods.

The free developer edition can be found here, while the main Informix product download page can be found here.

Key Informix features

  • Runs on UNIX, Linux, macOS and Windows
  • Multiple versions to meet various needs
  • Language support for SQL, SPL, C, C++, .NET, Java and PHP
  • Cloud and data warehousing tools
  • Ability to write applications with the JSON query language or IBM Data Studio
  • MongoDB community drivers from MongoDB or the REST API
  • Excellent scalability with easy integration and self-service customizations
  • Redundancy management via duplicate servers/clusters for load balancing and high availability
  • Scheduler to run common administrative tasks and set alerts
  • Security features to encrypt data, secure connections, control user privileges and audit data security
  • Performance tuning via memory management, fragmentation, parallelization and query optimization operations
  • Virtual appliance for use in existing virtual environments
  • Enterprise hypervisor edition optimized for cloud virtualization environments
  • Array of educational training and services

IBM Informix price breakdown

Although the basic developer version of Informix is free, the non-cloud versions of Informix require interested buyers to contact IBM for pricing. The cloud version has a cost structure based on environmental size:

IBM Informix on Cloud Small plan

The Small plan for IBM Informix on Cloud is $1,250 and is best for operations that focus on development, customization and functional testing.

Other details of this plan:

  • Private 2 x 2.0 GHz Cores
  • 8GB RAM
  • 1x100GB (SAN), 1×500 GB (SAN); 100GB at 500 IOPS
  • 1 Gbps Network

IBM Informix on Cloud Medium plan

The Medium plan for IBM Informix on Cloud is $2,250 and also works well for operations that focus on development, customization and functional testing.

Other details of this plan:

  • Private 4 x 2.0 GHz Cores
  • 16GB RAM
  • 1x100GB (SAN), 1x1TB (SAN); 100GB at 1200 IOPS
  • 1 Gbps Network

IBM Informix on Cloud Large plan

The Large plan for IBM Informix on Cloud is $4,000. It works best for operations that focus on production and/or pre-production.

Other details of this plan:

  • Private 8 x 2.0 GHz Cores
  • 32GB RAM
  • 1x100GB (SAN), 1x2TB (SAN); 100GB at 1600 IOPS
  • 1 Gbps Network

IBM Informix on Cloud Extra Large plan

The Extra Large plan for IBM Informix on Cloud is $8,000. It is primarily suited for production operations.

Other details of this plan:

  • Bare metal server 12 x 2.4 GHz Xeon Cores
  • 128GB RAM
  • 2x800GB SSD configured with RAID 1 (~800GB)
  • 6×1.2TB SSD configured with RAID 10 (~3.5TB)
  • 10 Gbps Redundant Network

IBM Informix competitors

IBM Informix competitors in the RDBMS space include Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, MariaDB, MySQL, IBM DB2 and MongoDB. While open source solutions are commonly used, Microsoft SQL Server and MongoDB are IBM Informix’s most equivalent competitors in this space.

Detractors of IBM Informix have described a lack of development resources, impacted efficiency with remote databases and poor public integration with open source software. Many of these same companies also struggle to find data professionals with previous Informix experience and skills.

That being said, most customer reviews illustrate a favorable view of Informix. It seems Informix appeals to a niche audience with its highly specific product offerings, whereas general database needs may be more sufficiently met by other competitors.

Read next: Top industrial IoT solutions (TechRepublic)