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Sybase makes $25M bet on Wi-Fi

Sybase is backing Wi-Fi in a big way. Last week, the Dublin, Calif.-based database vendor unveiled a $25 million strategic initiative to develop better wireless applications for business users. According to the company, Sybase will collaborate with leading research universities and industry partners to "overcome current barriers to development of 'always available' applications for the unwired enterprise."

Sybase expects to leverage its expertise in corporate wireless information access technologies and mobile content services to "meet the enormous pent-up demand for reliable enterprise Wi-Fi applications that deliver measurable ROI," said John Chen, Sybase chairman, president and CEO. Sybase is known for its focus on wireless, mainly through its iAnywhere Canadian subsidiary.

The first stage of the Sybase Wi-Fi initiative will include the launch of a network of Wi-Fi competency centers, one of which will be hosted at the Research and Technology Park at the University of Waterloo. Sybase also plans to initiate a global marketing campaign in conjunction with its partners to raise awareness of how Wi-Fi technology "enables the unwired enterprise."

"Pervasive computing and Wi-Fi technologies together are a significant area of research for the University," said Vic Diciccio, director of the Institute for Computer Research at the University of Waterloo, noting that the school and Sybase have had a long history of collaboration.

Through its iAnywhere Solutions subsidiary, the company is currently working with more than 10,000 corporate customers, Sybase's Chen said. "We also offer the largest mobile content service in the world, with over 8 million registered users of My AvantGo," he said. Sybase completed its acquisition of AvantGo, a leading provider of mobile enterprise software, in February of this year, and now operates the organization in conjunction with its iAnywhere Solutions subsidiary.

Sybase officials cite recent industry market studies that conclude that the Wi-Fi industry will expand at a compound annual growth rate of approximately 30%, and that estimate that more than 40% of United States companies already support Wi-Fi networks, with an additional 25% planning to implement and support the technology in the next 18 months. Yet an estimated 30% of executives cite significant barriers to deployment of Wi-Fi, including inconsistent connectivity, low network security, short device battery life, and a lack of reliable "unwired" applications and technology infrastructure that is not wireless-enabled.

For more information, visit the Sybase Web site at www.sybase.com.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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