Of the leading relational database vendors, Morgan Stanley’s US Investment Research Department is most optimistic about Oracle Corp’s New Year prospects. Although it has suffered its own share of near-term problems just like rivals Sybase Inc and Informix Corp in 1995 – and each is counting on new product releases to drive 1996 sales – Oracle’s scatter-gun array of products is more likely to assure continued success, according to Morgan Stanley. It points to planned announcements of new database server suites and vertical market offerings in the applications business later this quarter, with mid-range and distributed server suites, mainframe communications, video and text storage, Internet access and systems management products in the pipeline. Pricing will be targeted at Microsoft Corp’s BackOffice. Getting the production version of Oracle Applications 10.6 away recently was important, Morgan Stanley notes, because it adds a slew of previously unavailable international functions that will enable Oracle Europe to get more serious about applications. The 50% growth in consulting forecast for 1995 is a scaled-down figure based on the difficulty of finding staff to expand much faster: it already has 5,300 people in consulting and 40% of its consulting business relates to applications, the remainder deals with Oracle databases and tools. Sybase is also looking to new releases for inspiration, but has hitched its wagon almost exclusively to System 11, initial impact of which isn’t expected until towards the middle of next year. The company’s sales force will have Powersoft products to sell in the meantime, Morgan notes. The System 11 beta sites it spoke to – 80 of the 200 are end users – report a two to 10 times performance improvement over version 4.9 which most Sybase customers are using, though it cautions most are still working with small data sizes (200Mb). It notes also that SAP AG tested Sybase’s design for row-level locking – one of the features missing from System 11 that competitors are likely to highlight – and is pleased with the results. Sybase apparently does not forsee backward compatibility problems with adding the mechanism and other parallelisation features. Informix, which plans to extend the relational model next month and add new multimedia architecture, told Morgan Stanley it expects to beat Oracle’s 9,000 tpmC on Digital Equipment Corp’s Turbo Laser and points out that of the recent crop of benchmarks only its own have been done with a shipping product; Sybase System 11 and Oracle7 7.3 are still in beta. The company says the shake-up of its distribution model lost it market share to Oracle and Sybase but reckons the corner is turned. It sees a $100m to $150m annual run rate for its Japanese business in a couple of years from $45m last year and upswing in the recently soft northern European market. It did $6m in NewEra licences last quarter – to which it will add Java support next year – though the long-term trend it sees is for application vendors embedding tools in their products, reducing the need for independent development tools.