Several Performance Advantages, and Failover As Well
Among their advantages (over the older Type 4 drivers that are built into CF) are faster performance and lower memory use (more here), as well as greater tunability in general (discussed among other features between 4 and 5), and still more.
For some, more compelling still is the new driver-based failover, to have the driver detect a connection failure and switch communications to another DB instance (much like CF 8 Enterprise added the ability to do the same with mail server configuration in CF). This could be a huge improvement for many.
Getting More Info, Trials, PurchaseYou can learn more about (and purchase or get a trial of) the drivers at http://www.datadirect.com/products/jdbc/index.ssp. The page also includes links to more on the benefits of type 5, comparison to Type 4, and so on. (Sadly, I just missed their cleverly titled "These go to 11" webinar earlier today. Perhaps they'll offer another soon.)
When Might Adobe Bundle Them in CF?You may have caught that I referred to "purchase" of the drivers. Sadly, no, the drivers are not free. Adobe has licensed and included them in past releases of CF. So when Adobe may modify CF to bundle the new drivers?
Some have heard that Adobe's working on an updater for CF 9 (mentioned publicly at cf.Objective() among other places). Can we expect the drivers to be updated in that release? It's hard to say. In the 7.0.2 timeframe, the then-new drivers (3.5) came out just after the release and so were not included in the updater but instead were mentioned as a manual option in the CHF 1 technote. (Many missed that and to this day I suspect many shops still running CF 7 still have updated those drivers.) The point is, they did not include it with the updater (as I blogged about at the time in this blog entry.)
I can understand why they may not bundle new DB drivers with a CF updater: with updaters, they have to rebuild and retest all the installers on all the platforms, and updaters are generally not about adding "new features". It's a slippery slope as to whether driver updates are "new". It may also be a matter of timing, with respect to when Adobe learned about the drivers (likely sooner than most of us) and whether they found them compelling enough to consider, and at what cost in terms of backward compatibility. It's worth noting that the Type 5 drivers do assert to bring all their benefits "without code changes", so who knows?
The bigger question for some may really be simply, "I'm ok if they make me install it manually. It would just be nice to not have to license them ourselves." That's a fair point, and we just won't know until Adobe does address this issue (perhaps as they did in 7.0.2 CHF 1.) Until then, we have to wait and see.
But again, I do think the update compelling enough that shops with interest in performance should at least consider testing out the free trial to see how things go, or to prepare for the possibility of leveraging that new failover feature. (It also remains to be seen if Adobe may somehow try to force that failover feature to be an Enterprise-only feature, just as the mail server failover is.)
About the Company and Product Name Variations
Some may wonder if they visit the site for the drivers and notice the company being named Progress, when it used to be Merant. You can read about the fairly long chain of changes in the company history page.
One other thing worth noting is that the product is sometimes referred to as "DataDirect JDBC Type 5 drivers" (as I show in the subject here) and yet also sometimes as "DataDirect Connect for JDBC". They're the same thing.
One Boo Boo on the DataDirect Site
As I was tooling around their site, I happened on the page about use of the tool with JBoss servers. They said this:
The top web and application server vendors embed or recommend DataDirect JDBC drivers as part of their J2EE certification strategies (JBoss, IBM WebSphere, Sun Microsystems, Oracle BEA, and Macromedia.)
Can you spot the mistake? There is no more Macromedia, of course. I tried to find a page on the site to send a comment, but their Contact page didn't seem to offer a suitable option for such a comment. Oh well, so I am adding it here in case someone who cares can get something done about it.
Finally, I'll point out another useful page on their site, not new to the Type 5 drivers, but a helpful list of performance tips.