Sybase Inc top brass blew into London this week for the Sybase European User conference with the promise of a product cycle designed to head off questions about its future and position in the market. Chief executive and president Mark Hoffman, with support from David Peterschmidt, executive vice-president and chief operating officer, Dennis McEvoy, senior vice-president of the Products Group, and Michael Forster president, Sybase InformationConnect Division, told the press that the products Sybase was about to launch were the broadest, strongest set the company had ever had. But perhaps as an indicator of its need to put behind it the turbulent time Sybase has experienced, and to clear up the confusing array of home-grown and bought-in technologies, the Emeryville, California-based company is revising its product-naming strategy, so that everything is named either Sybase or Powerbuilder. The long awaited Sybase SQL Server System 11 database management system, for which the company pulled out Transaction Processing Performance Council benchmarked figures for operation on a Sun Microsystems Inc system to show it is the fastest Unix relational database and prove it can scale, is now entering the second phase of beta testing this week. That test had it scaling across 16 processors although the company said it could cope with more, but questioned whether there is even a demand for a database to scale beyond 16 processors, at the moment. In keeping with the company’s two-year view of products, System 11.1 release is already in the wings and will support clustering and very large databases.
Release 11.2 will be out in the back end of 1996. Navigation Server has been renamed Sybase MPP for massively parallel processing and a version is expected, by the end of the year for IBM Corp’s SP2. The company has put a positive spin on its break-up with AT&T Corp, with which it was developing the product, saying that now it is no longer tied to a single hardware system it believes the product will gain momentum. Versions for Hewlett-Packard Co’s and Sun’s parallel architectures, and probably a version for Pyramid Technology Corp’s machines, are being developed in-house under the auspices of Bruce Armstrong, who was in charge of the project at AT&T. We’re very optimistic that it will become big, but it’ll take a while to develop the market, Peterschmidt said. He added that in the beginning at least, the market would be industry-specific. General availability is set for the first quarter of 1996. Powerbuilder Version 5.0, its application development tool is due at the same time. The Watcom database engine, acquired when Powersoft Corp bought Ontario, Canada-based Watcom Inc, will appear as SQL Anywhere at the end of the year, supporting Transact-SQL and interfaces to the Replication Server and its gateway products. For the company the products mark a make or break time in the credibility stakes, a fact with which Hoffman agreed. But all the executives were confident that the company will have regained the percentage point share of the relational database market it has lost over the last year, and will rise to control a third by the end of the decade. Peterschmidt denied that the company had claimed it would ever get a third of the market by the end of this year (CI No 2,355), saying it was unrealistic to expect any company to double its market share in less than a year. Nevertheless, he said that 1996 would see the company improving its growth rate which has slumped to around 30% this year, from 60% the year before.