Where and why SQL Anywhere is popular – and where it isn’t yet
This post is a follow-up of SQL Anywhere – Your Flight-Mode Database Server
While SQL Anywhere does have its traditional and very active community – including many technology focused developers and users – it seems to have relatively low attention in the cosmos of SAP. This makes sense to some degree, simply due to the fact that SAP’s main focus is on Big Data scenarios and enterprise level IT and the target of SQL Anywhere as an RDBMS is small to mid-size or departmental infrastructure.
Another reason for the lack of popularity of SQL Anywhere is that many people use it without even being aware of. SQL Anywhere is frequently used as an embedded platform by both SAP and 3rd party applications which gives it a wide user base but a lack of attention, especially since in these environments it does not frequently generate issues unveiling to the platform. I remember a case where the repository of an application server was maintained in a SQL Anywhere database. This was recognized after years when the database transaction log hit the file size limit (of the Unix file system, not of SQL Anywhere). In a wider sense, this includes all developers, administrators and users of SAP Sybase IQ, which uses SQL Anywhere as its catalog (metadata) store and shares the client / server communication as well as – with few extensions or restrictions – the SQL dialect and parser.
SQL Anywhere has found its way to various internal SAP infrastructure systems. What I consider more relevant to this public audience: Within the SAP (formerly Sybase) product portfolio, you’ll find SQL Anywhere embedded in (and I’m not claiming this enumeration to be complete)
- IQ – as the metadata / catalog store
- BusinessObjects Enterprise – as the Central Management Server (CMS) database
- SAP Data Services on demand
- Replication Server – as the embedded system database ERSSD
- SUP / SMP – as the central “cache database”
- PowerBuilder and PowerDesigner – as the repository store
- SAP Control Center (formerly Sybase Control Center; a monitoring and administration component for various server systems)
Then, there are folks – like me – who deliberately or even enthusiastically use it. Due to its ease of handling and versatility, its light impact on the operating environment, its interoperability, its powerful SQL dialect and a bunch of other reasons. The intention of this series of posts is to grow this community by welcoming people interested in the technology or simply embracing the opportunity to have complete control over a full feature RDBMS running in their everyday work environment. If I’m right in assuming that there are some individuals out in the SAP ecosystem with a similar mindset, I’m confident that the SQL Anywhere suite of products will gain popularity fast.
Finally, I’m confident that SQL Anywhere has a place in enterprise IT landscapes. For large enterprises, this may not be at the top of the hierarchy, but unless they are completely monolithic, it may be the platform of choice for hierarchical or fractal sub- entities. And SQL Anywhere has a long history of integrating into heterogeneous environments, not only because we are the good guys and like to make (the database aspects of) your life easier and better, but simply out of daily needs. From my consulting experience I know many customer environments where SQL Anywhere was and continues to be used for specific solutions (like occasionally connected mobile deployments) even in companies that were not strategically using any (at the time) Sybase software at all.
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