Following our feature on Microsoft Corp’s ambitions to challenge the high-end relational database players with its SQL Server product a few weeks ago (CI No 3,099), Sybase Inc has confirmed that it is plumbing row-level locking into its SQL Server database, which will enable SAP AG’s R/3 business suite to run on top of it. Row-level locking, due by the end of the year, will mean the database can take advantage of lock management in other business packages from Baan Co NV and PeopleSoft Inc. Locking just a row of data instead of a bigger chunk, gives end users maximum access to data. But it means extra work for the database, which has to keep track of what records are being used and which are free. This can have the effect of dragging overall performance down. Sybase intends to do what the other players have done – Oracle Corp, Informix Software Inc and Computer Associates International Inc have all plumbed row-level locking into the database kernel. Having row-level locking in the kernel means a database can automatically switch to page level locking if there is heavy action, say, a batch update. Locking a bigger chunk – a page – frees the database from its extra management burden, and keeps performance up. When the load comes down again, the database can switch back to row-level locking and grant users greater access again.