Industry Exec of Year Phil White is betting on smart cards, not NC

Data mining and visualization tools will flourish as organizations stock their data
warehouses for World Wide Web publication, predicted Phillip E. White of Informix Software
Inc., GCN's 1996 Industry Executive of the Year.


Digital content--text, audio, video and still images--"is going to be king,"
said the Informix chairman, president and chief executive officer, in Washington to accept
his award at GCN's Awards Banquet.


He predicted this digital content will fuel the Web by publish-and-subscribe
technology, "where you publish data up to the server, which replicates it. The server
publishes data out to you as the user, and you subscribe to the data you want."


Unlike Oracle Corp., his biggest competitor, Informix isn't betting on the network
computer, or NC. "The NC is a failed set-top box," White said. Instead, he is
putting his company's money on programmable smart cards, used for personal identification
and storage of official, medical and commercial information.


"We're putting fingerprints into the card chip so the cards are secure,"
White said. Informix also is developing a card query language based on Structured Query
Language commands. With the SQL smart cards, federal agencies could give citizens
convenient and secure on-line access to sensitive information in government databases, he
said.


White called Sun Microsystems' Java "the programming language of the future."
He said he expects a shakeout in the systems software market. "The only operating
systems that will survive are Unix and Microsoft Windows NT," he said. "Right
now, Unix is ahead of NT. But over time you'll have clusters of small NT machines that
will look like a big machine and be very inexpensive."


The first shipments of Informix Universal Server, the company's new object-relational
database manager, went out last month to 20 large sites, White said. He joked about having
spent "$500 million for a $10 million company," Illustra Information
Technologies Inc., to acquire its object-relational technology and the database
engineering talents of Illustra's Michael Stonebraker.


Because the Universal Server is extensible and scalable, White said, government users
can integrate the new object capabilities over time without rewriting their core
applications. The architecture can register new data types and application logic in server
tables searchable by SQL commands.


Like government information managers, computer industry executives view the year 2000
conversion as their biggest problem overall, White said.


Informix holds contracts to provide database support to the federal government through
the Treasury Multiuser Acquisition Contract and NASA's Mission to Planet Earth project.


Before joining Informix, White was president of Wyse Technology Inc. He also held the
top sales and marketing position at Altos Computer Systems after a 15-year career at IBM
Corp.



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