Sybase Makes Dual Push: Data Integration, SQL Anywhere

It’s been a long time since Sybase Inc. was a major player—at least in its bread-and-butter relational database segment. Sybase’s mobile or embedded database solution, SQL Anywhere, is another story altogether, however: it’s all-but ubiquitous as a lightweight database for embedded applications.

At its TechWave user confab earlier this month, Sybase played to both its strengths (SQL Anywhere) and its weaknesses—namely, the highly competitive relational database segment. The data management stalwart simultaneously unveiled a new version of SQL Anywhere and also announced a reorganization and re-branding of its data integration stack—now called the Sybase Data Integration Suite (SDIS)—that it hopes will help revive the fortunes of the latter.

Sybase’s relational market fortunes could use reviving—if not outright defibrillating. According to market watcher International Data Corp. (IDC), Sybase controls just 3.5 percent of the worldwide RDBMS market, behind Microsoft—by a huge margin—and just ahead of NCR Corp. subsidiary Teradata (which controls 2.9 percent of the same segment).

On the plus side, Sybase has a successful, if not exactly well-known, data warehousing practice. And—thanks to a pair of key acquisitions—Sybase has also cobbled together the makings of a compelling data integration platform, starting first with the acquisition last year of EII specialist Avaki Corp., and—just two months ago—of German ETL and EII specialist Solonde AG.

What was missing, of course, was a means to tie these disparate data integration assets together. That provided the impetus for Sybase SDIS, which delivers a common set of modeling, design, development, and administration services for all of Sybase’s data integration tools. Of course, SDIS isn’t quite the one-stop shop Sybase wants it to be: for example, while Sybase PowerDesigner does support modeling, data design, and metadata management in SDIS 1.0, Sybase’s re-branded version of the former Solonde Transform On Demand product—i.e., Sybase ETL—won’t be incorporated into SDIS’ modeling, design, metadata, and administrative purview until Sybase delivers version 2.0 of that product—which at this point isn’t expected until late next year.

Nevertheless, there’s a lot to like in Sybase’s new SDIS push, particularly in the sense that—by virtue of its current and promised integration with its PowerDesigner development environment—it could help bring both new and apostate developers back into the Sybase fold.

And that, says veteran industry watcher Mike Schiff, a principal with data warehousing consultancy MAS Strategies, is a bankable strategy for Sybase’s revival, too. “[I]f Sybase can find a way to get developers interested in more than just their mobile [SQL Anywhere technology], in IQ or what they’re doing with data integration ... then maybe they could make a modest comeback,” said Schiff, who is also a member of TDWI’s extended research collaborative, just after Sybase’s acquisition of Solonde in June.

At the same time, SDIS 1.0 is only a first, halting step in this direction. After all, the composite suite delivers little, if anything, in the way of new data integration functionality—while the EII capabilities are there, courtesy of Sybase’s successful subsumation of the former Avaki, the suite still lacks an integrated ETL component—and (with the acquisition of Solonde just two months in the past) the separate Sybase ETL tool itself is little more than just a re-branded version of Solonde’s On Demand ETL product.

Also at TechWave, Sybase’s Anywhere subsidiary announced the release of SQL Anywhere 10, an update to its ubiquitous SQL Anywhere embedded database. SQL Anywhere 10 delivers more than 200 new features and enhancements, Sybase officials say.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a contributing editor for Enterprise Systems. He can be reached at [email protected].