Customers Win in Database Vendors Race to Linux

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2004-12-01 Print this article Print

Opinion: Linux is profoundly shaking up the database market, hopefully to customers' benefit.

Two splashy Linux announcements coming from major database vendors underscore the fact that Linux is profoundly shaking up the database market. First, Oracle on Tuesday announced that its latest database, as well as a slew of its other technologies, is now available on Novells latest enterprise Linux operating system, SLES (SuSE Linux Enterprise Server) 9. For its part, Sybase announced on the same day that its putting its ASE (Adaptive Server Enterprise) RDBMS on IBMs Linux-specific eServer OpenPower-based systems.
The spin on the Sybase announcement was that the IBM partnership was a) a last, desperate attempt for Sybase to stage a comeback against database competitors, and b) that its an arrow from IBM aimed squarely at Suns heart.
Sybases market share has been pretty miniscule of late, so its easy to see where the first spin comes from. Jim Johnson, president of The Standish Group, pointed out that Sybase, which has a very long-standing relationship with Sun as a hardware vendor, has been struggling to gain the attention of IBM and HP. A few years ago, the company announced availability on Apple systems, as well. As far as these hardware overtures go, though, the IBM/Linux fit is a good one and might be just the ticket to get Sybase the market share it needs. As it is, Sybase has a good presence in Unix databases. Making the jump to Linux is a logical step, Forrester Researchs Noel Yuhanna tells me, and one in which Sybase can leverage its considerable roster of customers in the financial, retail and insurance sectors. As it is, the Sybase announcement was planned to take place in front of an audience of 700 customers at the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday evening. Thats the largest event in Sybases history, according to David Jacobson, senior director of product marketing for Sybases data management and tools product lines, and it underscores the fact that Sybase is willing to swap its considerable clout in financial services for IBMs similar clout in Linux. All this emphasis on Linux has one objective: to rule Microsoft out of the picture. Now, we need to remember that Microsofts SQL Server database sprang from Sybase database technology, Johnson said. Microsoft OEMed Sybases product, putting it on Windows, as a precursor to what eventually became SQL Server. SQL Server users are currently locked out of Linux, obviously. What Sybase offers is a chance for them to move to a database that may be somewhat compatible with SQL Server—i.e., ASE—and yet runs on Linux. "Linux is growing," Johnson said. "Its eating into Microsofts base. As well as the Unix base. So this is a very good opportunity for Sybase to get back" some of the market Microsoft has gobbled up, he said. Next Page: IBMs hot little chip.

Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

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