Sybase CEO: Unwired Enterprise Requires Aggressive Apps

Sybase chief John Chen says the edge computing strategy calls for a new type of enterprise-based application-'something that you deal with behind the firewall, within the firewall and outside of the firewall.'

Sybase CEO John Chen has been transforming the venerable Silicon Valley database developer for the past four years into a 21st-century maker of middleware and database management software.

The company is using events such as its sponsorship of the Sybase Classic golf tournament this week to promote its "unwired enterprise" concept, which focuses on enabling customers to connect their back-office data to their end users regardless of whether those users have wireless PDAs, browser-enabled PCs or any other computing device operating on the edge.

At the tournament at the Wykagyl Country Club in New Rochelle, N.Y., Sybase Inc. is showcasing its technology, which can deliver real-time information on scores, course information and player statistics to fans PDAs and smart phones.

eWEEK Department Editor John S. McCright and Senior Writer Brian Fonseca recently spoke with Chen at Sybase headquarters in Dublin, Calif., about what progress the company has made toward enabling the unwired enterprise.

What are some of the hurdles and limitations Sybase needs to overcome in order to enable the unwired enterprise?

I believe the most important thing is applications. Applications have gone beyond e-mail, beyond sales-force automation and beyond some of the logistics of that. A lot of them are in a proof-of-concept stage.

Whether its health care, RFID with readers, in transportation, or even digital signatures or GPS stuff, theres a lot of application [development] and a lot of investment in that.

An application company like SAP [AG] is working with us and pushing the small and medium businesses [with the message], Compute whenever you want. Information means that theres no action. Computing, theres action.

/zimages/2/28571.gifRead more here about Sybase putting its unwired applications to work.

We actually believe in edge computing … meaning that where you acquire the data [and] when you acquire the data, this data is meaningful in its own right, and it triggers some kind of behavior or actions or response. It could very much be right at the point of acquisitions of data.

So, we believe thats really the model going forward. That means that you need to have applications that take advantage of it, today the applications are written as more procedural apps, and theyre very back-end-oriented apps. Even distributed apps, theyre really much more of a repository for management and movement of data in a very different, complex way.

We think that the architecture of the future has [to be] more [of] a distributed repository, and the actions can get closer and closer to the users. It could be vendors, customers, employees, it could be anybody—these transactions are going to be way out there and not back here [in a centralized server room].

In this nontraditional model for moving computing out there to the edge, who are your allies?

The easiest thing is to think about allies is people like What they do is say, Im going to empower you as a salesperson, but Im also going to empower the people sitting in the back offices, or the upper management, and they can actually see all the contacts, all the calls as they happen, they can see movement of the deals, they can see the movement of the pipeline.

/zimages/2/28571.gifClick here to read about adding customization tools to its CRM suite.

[They can get] a better management tool and get a better appreciation of whats going on out there, rather than just calling everybody and dialing for dollars or whatever.

This new type of application … has to be enterprise-based. That means it has to be something that you deal with behind the firewall, within the firewall and outside of the firewall. Thats a very important concept.

Were trying to approach more and more of these applications—or really these VARs—and were trying to use the angle of mobility in the application. You can see that where [Sybase has] the back end, and a lot of people have the front end … the pipe through the firewall is missing.

Acquiring that and [providing] both a continuous availability as well as official connectivity, offline and online mode, is an important thing because thats where productivity is. That is the kind of computing paradigm model we want to be the No. 1 in.

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