Partial Plans Perplex Press at SAP – Sybase Event, But Promise is Everywhere

SAP co-CEOs Bill McDermott and Jim Hagemann Snabe and Sybase CEO John Chen keynoted a two-continent event on August 19 to demonstrate their solidarity and provide an early look at strategic plans. Many analysts greeted the initial announcement with positive reviews – mine is here, and Noel Yuhanna of Forrester weighed in here. Progress since the $5.8 billion transaction formally closed (just a few weeks ago) has been modest, but certainly better than the message, which was not yet crisp. The press release (several pages in length) was long on marketing phrases and short on specifics, and those in attendance generally found the content scattered and difficult to parse. Highlights emerged, however, in the subsequent discussions as press, analysts and bloggers dug in for details:

  • A mobile application software development kit (SDK) will combine the Sybase Unwired Platform (SUP) with SAP NetWeaver Mobile and Business Objects Mobile software within 9 months.
  • Sybase CEO John Chen, on the SAP board, will operate Sybase as a “separate, independent unit,” and reaffirmed the commitment to maintaining the product roadmap he made when I interviewed him at TechWave
  • SAP will “port, certify and optimize” SAP Business Suite, NetWeaver Business Warehouse, Business Objects Data Services and Business Objects BI solutions to Sybase ASE. No dates were specified.
  • Business Objects, already certified for Sybase ASE and IQ, will be “combined with (unspecified) Sybase data management servers” to deliver “discovery, storage, and consumption.” No dates were specified; it’s not clear what’s new here other than packaging.
  • The companies will incorporate SAP’s in-memory computing technology across SAP and Sybase data management offerings.

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Sybase Will Step Up In-Memory Message With New Release

Sybase has quietly racked up a string of successful growth years, riding its pioneering status in commercial analytic databases (ADBMS) and holding on to its loyal base in everyday DBMS after being elbowed aside by Oracle a decade ago. Its steady market performance has not been driven by dramatic innovations: Sybase has seemed to lag the Big Three (Oracle, Microsoft and IBM) in new feature/function. But it has innovated: IQ has grown into a key revenue source, and Sybase RAP has established itself as one of the more successful event processing offerings, with a string of Wall Street customers creating a new class of applications.

In the current (5-year-old) major release level of its flagship Adaptive Server Enterprise (ASE) product, Sybase has added user-defined SQL functions, support for plugin Java Runtime Environment (JRE) and JVM components, xml tables, SQL statement replication, new statistical aggregate functions, and a shared disk cluster edition. And now, Sybase is about to add new in-memory database capabilities and step up its support for external storage management. I’ve spent some time recently with the Sybase team to discuss their plans for the upcoming 15.5 release (currently available in a developer version), and found palpable excitement about the possibilities of their new work. Read more of this post

Sybase’s DBMS Business Shows Sea Legs – But Challenges Lay Ahead

Sybase has rolled out a good Q2 in difficult times, reflecting once again the steady, effective management that has characterized the past few years. All-time highs in margins, earnings, and cash flow – coming at the bottom (one hopes) of the current recession – are nothing to sneeze at. The first highlighted item in chairman John Chen’s earnings call was double digit growth in database license revenue, showing that the flagship still has some sea legs. He claimed 250 new ASE customers in the quarter – “we generally get 800-900 per year,” he added. There were 60 new IQ customers, half of who are non-ASE.  Sybase IQ sees Teradata, Netezza and occasionally Vertica  as competitors. Good performance, but will it be good enough?

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