Informix Dynamic Server is a great database engine, simple to use and offering great performance. The acquisition of Illustra in 1997 gave Informix an extra edge over its competitors, adding support for object-relational technology. The introduction of datablades, a technology that allowed to support complex data types such as spatial data or video inside a traditional relational database opened a lot of interesting possibilities.
One of those datablades, the Excalibur Text Datablade was specially interesting. It allowed to store all kind of text documents (HTML, Word, PDF, etc.) within IDS 9.x and perform complex full-text search SQL queries. Using this functionality I built several custom-made applications for some of our customers (Televisa, CISEN, Banpaís, etc.). It soon became apparent that in order to scale and replicate these success stories at a faster pace we needed to have a base product that could be easly customized to fit any customer need.
I convinced the L.A. VP that building a Content Management System based on IDS was a good idea and that I should lead the project. I was authorized to hire two trainees to help me out and we started to work on Instant Intranet. It was a great success. We sold the product to many customers in most LA countries as well as one in Jamaica. As of 2010, we still had important customers such as Pemex, CFE or SAT (the Mexican equivalent to the IRS) that relied on the technology.
After IBM bought Informix we stopped looking for new customers as this solution competed directly against some of Lotus offerings, but we continued supporting existing customers.
The first versions of Instant Intranet were programmed using the Informix Web Datablade. This allowed us to sell a complete CMS that was very simple to install as it only required the database and a free web server like Apache. It was a perfect solution for small workgroups.
Despite all its virtues, Instant Intranet had a problem. It didn't scale too well. The problem was primarily linked to the use of the Web datablade, a simple to learn technology but not well suited for demanding applications (much like Ruby if you ask me). So, after I created Instant Portal to help our customers easily migrate their Web Datablade applications to Java we started using it to develop a totally new Instant Intranet. The performance gains were simply amazing and by clustering application servers we gained significant scalability.
Besides improving scalability, the move to Java allowed me to add several new modules to the application that we had developed for Instant Portal (agenda and forums among others).
Originally designed to run on WebSphere 5.0, it has been tested and certified to run also on WebSphere 5.1 and 6.0.Marketing material