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August 22, 2005

Sybase drives mobility from database up

Sybase Inc chairman, president and CEO John Chen talked up his company's database and mobility prowess at its annual user conference this week, insisting the two technologies were not mutually exclusive. Sybase officials also took an opportunity to unveil several new infrastructure products and beta programs.

By CBR Staff Writer

In his keynote at Sybase’s TechWave 2005 event here in Las Vegas yesterday Chen reaffirmed the company’s commitment to still being the database business, pointing to the rapid adoption of its ASE (Adaptive Server Enterprise) database server and a new release (ASE 15) in the works.

Our product offering in [the database] space is still as solid as ever, Chen said pointing to over 700 new ASE deals last fiscal year. In the second quarter, Sybase’s database licenses were up 19% year over year. Sybase does not typically break out specific revenue across specific product lines. However, Chen sees no reason why Sybase cannot record database revenue growth at or above the rest of the market.

Chen said an official global launch of ASE 15, which is currently in final beta, is slated for mid-September. The launch will include parallel events in London, New York and Beijing China. ASE 15 will significantly beef-up database scalability, performance and enterprise management, packing in enhancements like very large database support (VLDB), native data security without forcing application changes, more efficient transaction processing through integrated decision support capabilities, and mixed data handling capabilities.

Raj Nathan, senior vice president and general manager of Sybase’s ITSG group, said ASE will allow companies to easily step up from gigabyte to terabyte footprints through several scalability and performance enhancements, including a new complex query engine and support for shared disk clustering. Playing off an autonomic computing theme, ASE 15 will also include lots of self-management and self-healing, Nathan said.

Nathan also stressed that Sybase’s native data encryption technology is unique in the database market. No one else is doing it this way, he said. Nathan also highlighted support for more granular access management, which allows companies to further tighten up security by allowing database administrators to write on top of other authentication technologies.

ASE was a big deal for us because we’ve re-written the code base, Chen told a record audience of customers and partners. Its designed to compete with [Oracle’s] grid.

Dublin, California-based Sybase expects to roll out new features in follow-one ASE releases including unstructured data management, tightened up data federation capabilities (sourced from recently acquired technology from Avaki) and deeper integration into developer frameworks.

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Chen believes ASE will make Sybase a lot more competitive in the market. We feel we’ve not only caught up [with ASE 15], but also surpassed some of our competitors, Chen said. He highlighted ASE’s robust and sophisticated failover and security features as being ideal for mission critical deployments.

In the wider scheme of things, ASE really sits as part of Sybase’s Unwired Enterprise vision, which Sybase is aggressively pushing as a new paradigm for corporate computing. The Unwired Enterprise starts with the database…we want people to talk about the database when referring to mobility.

Chen pointed to built-in mobility as a key differentiator for Sybase’s infrastructure stack. He said the company’s mobile and wireless business was up 18% last year, with the company’s iAnywhere Solutions mobile database revenue also growing 32%.

Chen said a new version of its SQL Anywhere mobile database is now being rolled into beta and will include better handling for smart phone client device access. Conference attendees got an early look at new features in the beta release (codenamed Jasper), which includes support for materialized views, hot failover and performance and application profiling tools. The product is slated for a fourth quarter of 2005 general release.

Sybase already has strong set of mobile technologies that includes RFID iAnywhere, Afaria and AvantGo (a mobile internet service) as well as new versions of its Unwired Accelerator and Orchestrator products which were unveiled yesterday.

Accelerator 7.0 comes with new mobilization wizards aimed at SAP, Business Objects and Remedy environments, enhancements to both Application Builder module and Blackberry Unwired Accelerator application (to support field validation and logging).

Orchestrator 5.0 comes with full integration with Sybase’s WorkSpace (Sybase’s Eclipse based design tool), new J2EE business process and Java-based rules and message transformation engines, support for Java composite services, a fully integrated business activity monitoring (BAM) platform, support for standards (BPEL4WS, Rule ML and JSR-94) and integrated support for database access.

Both Accelerator and Orchestrator will ship at the end of this month.

The company has also broadened its mobile stack by acquisitions like Extended Systems and Xcellenet. With a cash pile of $913.4m, further acquisitions are certainly on the cards.

Our aim is to own this space and become the de facto mobility platform standard, Chen said. He added that Sybase will use mobility to beat the likes of infrastructure rivals vendors in the market. We’re forcing mobility as a conversation from the database-up.

Despite what people said, [mobile computing] has been a huge, huge explosive growth area, Chen said. Its also in its early stages…maturing rapidly in retail and transportation and now slowly creeping over into healthcare and financial services.

With over 15,000 corporate customers using iAnywhere’s mobility solutions, Sybase has a strong case to assert leadership Chen certainly believes that Sybase’s mobile business could and should grow faster than the overall market rate.

IT research firm IDC expects spend on mobile computing technologies to double (worldwide) from $25bn last year to over $55bn by 2009.

On other fronts, Sybase is also preparing enhancements to its application development suite. The company announced upcoming beta releases of its PowerBuilder 10.5, PowerDesigner 12, PocketBuilder 2.03 and DataWindows .NET development products. All the upgrades, except PocketBuilder (expected this November), are scheduled for general availability in the first quarter of 2006.

Going forward Chen said most development would be aimed at providing database and mobility infrastructure to support Sybase’s grandiose Data Services Architecture which it unveiled last year.

He also hinted at tighter integration between the various components of its mobile and wireless product line. Right now we have a broad collection of point technologies. Enterprise users are looking for a stack, platform or architecture.

Our extended acquisitions and partnerships will give us a leg-up towards providing a complete m-business suite.

Chen said that partners are key, emphasizing Sybase’s close technical alliances with Intel Corp, Sun Microsystems Inc and IBM (for hardware and operating platforms), RIM and Cingular (mobile) and Inc. The company also strengthened its strategic ties with BMC Software Inc, a provider of database backup and recovery tools. BMC’s SQL BackTrack software will be integrated with ASE.

Many of these partnerships are designed to go deepen, rather widen its infrastructure stack. They are also driving significant business for Sybase. Partner-derived revenue was up 14% last year. Right now its about 50-50 between direct and indirect…we’d like that to be more like 60% indirect.

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