Sybase expands developer network with Microsoft partnership
- By John K. Waters
The battle to win the hearts and minds of software developers spawned the phenomenon of the developer network, and today, virtually every major vendor supports one.
Whatever your poison (or platform) there's a developer network for you. For vendors, they provide a means of disseminating information and distributing early-access software; for developers, they are vehicles for peer contact and real-world problem solving. META Group analyst Thomas Murphy has characterized these networks as, "...vital to both customers and vendors as a cost-effective channel to learn, communicate, and gather needed tools."
The platform vendors (BEA, IBM, Microsoft, and Sun, for example), and the major application vendors (such as Oracle, SAP, and Siebel) all are attempting to build and maintain a loyal community of developers this way.
"Developer networks are a very practical way of advancing your knowledge," says Patrick Enright, director of partner development at Sybase. "With a developer network, you have the ability to interact in an immediate way with people who are actually doing the work, grab what they need, and take advantage of it. The people with their feet on the street see the value."
The Sybase Developer Network (SDN) has had a particularly good year: membership has grown 30 percent over the previous year, Enright says. To encourage that kind of growth and sustain membership, the Dublin, Calif.-based enterprise software maker has invested in new programs and features for its developer community Web site.
The company recently expanded the reach of its popular CodeXchange online forum, for example, through a partnership with Java.net developer site, giving SDN members access to more than 1,500 additional projects.
Based on CollabNet Enterprise Edition, the CodeXchange interface is designed to provide multiple ways for SDN members to share content on development projects. There are more than 600 such projects currently underway, Enright says. Those projects currently number more than 600 in progress today.
The company has also advanced its own "Unwired Enterprise" initiative by partnering with UK cellular providers Orange and O2, and ATT Wireless to provide enhanced wireless developer resources.
"If you think about mobile developers, the ultimate goal for them is to get the application on the device," says Enright. "That's what Orange, O2, and ATT Wireless do. We've linked in with their developer networks, so that Sybase developers can go to the SDN site, build an application, and have a streamlined certification path."
This week, Sybase disclosed that it has joined the Microsoft Visual Studio Industry Partner (VSIP) program, integrating its DataWindow .NET solution into the Visual Studio .NET 2003 integrated development environment (IDE).
Through that program, SDN members benefit from what the company calls "tight integration with the .NET Framework" and the two companies' "shared approach to information management technology." Joining the VSIP program also gives Sybase the opportunity to reach millions of Microsoft developers.
"Our investment in the developer community is definitely paying off," says Enright. "It's paying off for us, and it's paying off for them."
John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached