Database Options Expand

Embarcadero unveils Sybase edition of SQL Debugger; Great Plains bundle to support Postgre SQL.

Companies looking for evidence of database life beyond Oracle Corp., IBM and Microsoft Corp. can be optimistic after news from third-party vendors supporting Sybase Inc. and the University of California at Berkeleys PostgreSQL.

Embarcadero Technologies Inc. last week announced a Sybase version of its SQL Debugger tool, which will be available later this month for Sybases Adaptive Server Edition 12.0 and 12.5 as a plug-in to Embarcaderos DBArtisan product. Its the first third-party debugger to use Sybases new debugging API, thereby eliminating the usual need for custom middleware, according to officials of San Francisco-based Embarcadero. This makes the tool easier to configure, less likely to have bugs and faster performing, officials said.

The idea of a single debugger appeals to Chris Franklin, project manager at Software Partners LLC, in Encinitas, Calif., where SQL Debugger is being beta tested.

"This wouldve saved us $25,000 to $50,000 on our last project," Franklin said. "There are a bunch of other tools. A lot of it is just kind of hard knocks, where you use several different tools together."

Embarcaderos tool, like the others, covers "about 95 percent" of the database programming options, Franklin said. But being able to free developers of the burden of setup duties is especially valuable for C++ and Common Object Request Broker Architecture programs, he said.

However, he said, either Embarcadero or Sybase directly should provide more programming examples. "Im big on open source ... so I dont have to spend excessive hours finding out what some guy on the East Coast found out weeks ago," Franklin said. "If they could just make that easier for all the development shops, that would be the one thing that would sell them the most."

This week, Great Bridge LLC, of Norfolk, Va., will launch WebSuite, a developer-oriented bundling of the PostgreSQL open-source database, the PHP server-side scripting language and the Apache server. WebSuite also includes installation templates, documentation and basic technical support, Great Bridge officials said.

In the next six to nine months, the officials said, the bundle will be enhanced with administrative tools, Java support and more thorough coverage of XML (Extensible Markup Language). A graphical application development environment and database replication features are also planned, but those could take up to a year to roll out.

WebSuite costs $2,495. Great Bridge also plans to sell enhanced technical support, consulting and training.

"It cuts down the amount of time you have to spend just getting ready to develop," said Bill Claybrook, an analyst with Aberdeen Group Inc., in Boston. "I dont see any potential downsides."

Although neither offering provides new technology to the database industry, the fact that ISVs see opportunities for platforms outside the top-tier database companies is a positive sign for healthy competition, analysts say.