A Deeper Look At Sybase
Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you have likely heard that SAP acquired Sybase sometime last year.
Indeed, this was rather unavoidable for those who attended SAP TechEd 2010 in Berlin: Vishal Sikka mentioned the word ‘Sybase’ 22 times in his keynote (I counted).
Okay, so Sybase is now “Sybase, an SAP company”. But what does it mean? What does Sybase bring to the SAP world in terms of products?
I found that when you say ‘Sybase’, most folks in the SAP world immediately think of mobility software, and nothing much else.
Mobility is indeed an area where Sybase has a particularly strong market position; we’ve been consistently showing up as a leader in analysts’ reports for years. Clearly, SAP will benefit greatly from Sybase’s mobile technology.
However, mobility is only half of the Sybase story.
Myself, I have my roots in that other part of Sybase, which is enterprise data management — or let’s just call it ‘databases’ for short.
Sybase was founded as a database company, and its original product took Wall Street by storm in the early 1990’s. That product, by the way, was named ‘Sybase SQL Server’ (and if ‘SQL Server’ sounds familiar that’s not a coincidence, but I’ll say more about that in one of my next blog posts).
These two major parts of Sybase -mobile vs. databases- each aim at rather different market segments and consequently, you’ll find that most Sybase folks are primarily focused on only one of these areas.
I’ll be honest: being a database guy, I know next to nothing about Sybase’s mobile products, other than that I’m running Mobile Office on my Symbian phone (which, incidentally, shows no signs of dying despite it being well over its life expectancy, thus thwarting my secret desire to replace it with an Android or iPhone (haven’t made up my mind on that one)).
So let me talk about stuff I do know something about, which is databases.
Sybase actually has no less than four databases:
– first, there is ‘Adaptive Server Enterprise’, or ‘ASE’ as it’s usually called. ASE is Sybase’s flagship OLTP database; SAP Business Suite is currently being ported to run on ASE and you’ll hear more about that later in 2011.
– next, there is ‘Sybase IQ’: a column-oriented database designed and optimized for analytics; IQ is one of the big Sybase success products in recent years. After the SAP acquisition, it is being integrated closely with Business Objects since these two products make a very strong BI offering.
– then there is ‘SQL Anywhere’ (formerly known as Adaptive Server Anywhere). This is a small-footprint RDBMS that runs on just about any piece of computing hardware including DOS, Windows and most flavours of Unix/Linux; a light-weight variety is for use in equipment such as mobile devices.
– lastly, there is ‘Advantage DB’; this is another DBMS that came as part of Sybase’s acquisition of Extended Systems (a mobility company) a few years ago (to be honest (again): I don’t actually know much about Advantage DB. But I’m just trying to be complete here).
Apart from these databases, Sybase has many other products. Let me just mention a few.
– one of Sybase’s hidden gems is named ‘Sybase Replication Server’. This is a data movement product that lets you, well, move data between databases. RepServer (for short) has an interesting history and some great capabilities that often go unmentioned. I’ll try to change that.
– ‘Sybase CEP’ (Complex Event Processing) is best described as a platform for real-time, low-latency, event-driven applications. If that sounds fuzzy, think of the software that banks use to do automatic trading on the stock exchange: they must automatically respond (buy or sell) to changing circumstances (stock prices) within milliseconds, and that’s one of the things Sybase CEP is used for.
– ‘PowerDesigner’ is a modeling tool that can do anything from data modeling (including reverse-engineering) to BPM (Business Process Modeling). It works on any brand of database out there, including Oracle, DB2, etc., and can also do things like generating scripts to transfer/convert data from any source database to any target. If you’re an IT professional and you need to do some modeling, ask your manager to get you a copy of PowerDesigner as a birthday present (or whatever excuse you can come up with).
– ‘PowerBuilder’ (not to be confused with PowerDesigner!) is a tool for application development. PowerBuilder introduced the famous ‘DataWindow’ concept long ago, but these days also comes in a .NET version.
– there’s another part of Sybase, often described as ‘messaging’. You’re excused for not knowing that this stands for -in a nutshell- running the largest operator of text message delivery on the planet, under the brand name ‘Sybase 365’. Dazzling numbers of text messages are transmitted to mobile devices every month through Sybase 365, enabling services such as mobile banking and mCommerce. For the purpose of this blog, I’ll put Sybase 365’s messaging product under ‘mobile’.
This list of Sybase products is by no means complete, but I’m running out of inspiration as well as coffee, so let me stop here for now.
Here’s what I’m going to do: in the weeks/months ahead, I’ll put up a blog post about some of the main Sybase data management products, so as to shed some light at what they are, and what they’re used for.
Stay tuned & watch this space.
Update: installments so far: