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Informix User Conference - Anaheim 2002 IIUG Report by Board Members Nancy and Neil

Report on the IBM Data Management Conference 2002

Last week, the International Informix Users Group (IIUG) Board of Directors (BoD) attended the combined IBM Data Management Conference/Informix User Conference in Anaheim, California, USA. Below is a brief summary of the event from the Board’s perspective.

A webcast was held on Wednesday, 18 September which included a follow-up to this conference. The webcast is being replay can be found at

Leadership Council Meeting

The Conference started for us on Saturday, 7 September, when the Leadership Council (IUGLC) meeting was held.  James Edmiston coordinated a review of Local User Group (LUG) and Special Interest Group activity throughout the year, and was pleased to announce the formation of a number of new groups including, in keeping with the BoD’s stated aim of increasing the non-US participation in IIUG, a number outside the US.  Several leaders of popular LUGs discussed their experiences in and strategies for running successful groups.

IBM Marketing representatives William Freiwah and Michael Hiskey asked the group if they had received an email about InfoBahn (see explanation lower down). These events are not due to come to N America until early 2003, so unsurprisingly few of the attendees, who were overwhelmingly N America-based, remembered receiving that email. Michael stated that a separate 3 part series of emails is going out to Informix customers worldwide, re-affirming IBM's commitment to Informix products. The first of these went out in late August 2002.

Patricia Quinn, Product Manger for IDS, talked generally about plans for the continued development, and marketing, of the IDS product line.

Gary Proctor, Team Leader for Server Product Development then talked briefly about the Informix product roadmap, and this was followed by a general Q&A session involving, amongst others, Jonathan Leffler and Madison Pruet.

Christine Normile, IT Specialist for IBM Data Management talked briefly about a growing realization within IBM that Informix marketing needed to be better targeted.

A panel was then held, featuring Patricia Quinn and others, who fielded questions about IBM product marketing and product management. This session also fielded an IDS v9.4 product preview section.

Gary Schneider, IBM Worldwide Channels Development Manager, then began a presentation about the future of marketing of IBM Data Management products, and how DB2 and Informix were to be marketed under the single banner of IBM Data Management Solutions. Unfortunately for him, he was unable to get past his first slide, which showed the IBM Data Management database offerings being presented under the single slogan “DB2 Rocks”. A frank and occasionally heated debate ensued, in which Mr. Schneider took the time to draw a distinction between Marketing and Advertising, and explain that:

  • Marketing had decided that there was insufficient resource to market effectively two different product sets
  • We should not expect to see any further advertising of the Informix brand
  • IBM has begun, in North America, emailing all registered Informix customers: the first of a 3 email set has been sent.
  • IBM is committed to a series of Informix-specific “Infobahns”, beginning in September and Europe and finishing by the end of the 2002 in North America
  • IBM was committed to continued marketing of the Informix products, principally through its Channel Partner program

In return, the following points were made back to Mr. Schneider:

  • This strategy is leading to a perception in the market that Informix is a “dead” product
  • That a single set of emails from IBM, following a prolonged period of silence, is in itself unlikely to be perceived as a vast commitment
  • That a significant proportion of Channel Partners had already, or were about to, abandon Informix as a platform for their products
  • That it is advertising, not promotion or technical information, that will register Informix as a viable product in the mind of decision makers

It appeared that Mr. Scheinder was taken aback by the strength of feeling about, and dissent to, his team’s proposals. To his credit he did argue his case and deal with questions with a calm good humor, which led to an overall feeling that the exchange had been positive.

Conference Proper

The conference proper began on Monday, 9 September, and ran through Thursday. The Informix-specific sessions were listed separately in the combined programme, allowing them to be identified easily by attendees focusing just on Informix: all conference sessions were however open to all attendees. The general consensus from Board members and others we spoke to was that, although some sessions were strong, the overall quantity of Informix content was spread over too long a period. This, together with administrative problems such as inaccurate documentation of venues and occasional poor scheduling, led to the impression that the event was inferior to previous Informix conferences.

During the week, several presentations of the Informix product roadmap were given. There were a number of other General Informix sessions, such as Meet the Experts, which were well-attended and well-received. However, the most keenly-anticipated event was the Meet the Executives session, attended by a number of very senior executives from IBM Marketing. In the event this session was disappointing, with only two questions permitted which directly addressed the principal issue of the marketing of DB2 at Informix’s expense, One of these was asked by current IBM employee (at the time of writing!) Mark Scranton, who eloquently and forcefully questioned IBM’s commitment in deed, rather than word, to Informix. The executives did not directly engage with either of the questioners who asked directly about the marketing of Informix.

The session was felt by many present to be unsatisfactory, as important questions were left unanswered.

IIUG Annual General Meeting (AGM)

The IIUG AGM was held as a general session. Again, a report was given on the IIUG’s campaigning, LUG and SIG activity throughout the year. The results of the IIUG BoD election were announced and the new Board members were introduced to the users. Outgoing IIUG President Fred Hubbard and incoming President Jerry Hamilton were both introduced to the audience and made brief speeches.

Two IIUG Directors’ Awards, recognizing exceptional contributions to the Informix community, were made. One to Carlton Doe, who made a brief and witty acceptance speech, the other to Art Kagel, who unfortunately could not be present to accept his award but (allegedly!) reacted by cell phone through the medium of Stuart Litel.

Leadership Council Reception

On the evening of Monday, 9 September a reception was held for the IIUG Leadership Council. A good number of IBM executives, including most in attendance at the Meet the Executives session, were invited and attended, including Peter Bingaman, Director of Brand Marketing, Sue Riley, Manager Informix Loyalty, and Don Top, VP Informix Loyalty. There was disappointment that Janet Perna, General Manager - Data Management Solutions, who earlier in the day had delivered the Conference’s keynote speech, was unable to attend the Reception. However, the valuable opportunity to meet with IBM executives in a relaxed and informal setting was welcomed by all who attended.


The Conference ran an expo on its first three days, and the IIUG had a stand at this event. The IIUG stand was newly-commissioned for the event, and looked very professional. The stand was manned by BoD and other Leadership Council members, and remained consistently busy throughout the expo. A web camera was set up to broadcast pictures from the event: with better publicity in future this could provide a valuable attraction to the stand in future.

During the course of the expo 80 new members for the IIUG were signed up.

Board of Directors Meeting

On Thursday, 12 September a meeting of the Board of Directors was held. Amongst the items discussed were reactions to the conference, and a list of points – good and bad – were compiled and passed on to the organizers of the Conference, IBM Learning Services, by Dawn Shannon of IBM User Group Communications, an IBM Marketing Manager who amongst other duties, is the IBM person with responsibility for supporting the IIUG.

The negatives ranged from comments on the organization and publicity of the conference, through disappointment with the prolonged downtime at the IBM Learning Services’ certification centre, through to questions about the treatment of expo exhibitors who, despite paying in some cases many tens of thousands of dollars to exhibit, were barred from attending general sessions such as the IIUG AGM, and the conference party.

On the other hand, the opportunity to meet key Informix and IBM marketing and technical people was welcomed, the expo was generally rated as a lively and enjoyable addition to the conference, and a number of opportunities to compare and contrast DB2 and Informix, and their relative roadmaps, had been made available.

There was also much discussion about the IIUG role in the event, from questioning of the suitability of this Conference rather than, say the IDUG (DB2 User Group) conference, for IIUG participation, to how we might more effectively publicize and utilize the IIUG stand in future.

Other matters were also discussed, including how the IIUG is funded, and the roles and responsibilities of the newly-created post of IIUG Managing Director. A shortage of time cut short this last debate, but outstanding questions will be submitted in writing to IIUG BoD President Jerry Hamilton for further discussion.

11 September

On the morning of 11 September, the hotels at the conference held a dignified secular service in memory of those who died or suffered the previous year. A minute’s silence was observed at the Conference itself.