Sybase Ready to Take On Oracle in Databases

Sybase CEO John Chen says the company will focus on technology to differentiate itself in the database market.

Database software remains the bread and butter of Sybase, which enjoyed growth in the number of new licenses last year after the release of its Adaptive Server Enterprise 15 product.

With the OLTP (online transaction processing) database market arguably already decided, Sybase CEO John Chen said in an interview with eWEEK Aug. 7 at the TechWave conference in Las Vegas that his company will seek to differentiate itself in the database market by focusing on technology.

/zimages/7/28571.gifClick here to read eWEEKs interview with Sybases John Chen.

"The real growth in the database market that is sensible is going to be in the analytics role for us," he said. "The OLTP database, the die is pretty much cast. Everybody has tried to come grab our share, and they were never successful. They werent successful when we were weak; now they are not going to be able to [grab any of Sybases share]."

Chen backed up his claims by pointing out that database licenses grew 16 percent and that his company controlled about 3 to 5 percent of the market. Those numbers still put the company far behind the heavyweight in the space, Oracle, as well as IBM and Microsoft, which together make up the Big 3 in the database market.

Gartner analysts estimated in June that Oracle has about 47.1 percent of the relational database management software market, compared with 21.1 percent for IBM and 17.4 percent for Microsoft. IBM officials contend that Oracles licenses are not growing at the rate Oracle claims. Oracle, for its part, has expressed confidence that it will maintain its position as far and away the biggest database vendor.

"If I sit here and tell you that were going to be 10 percent, Im just lying through my teeth," Chen said. "But I can tell you that theres no way Im going to lose this 3 to 5 percent. So eventually maybe well get that 5 percent to 6, 7, 8, somewhere around there."

To that end, the Dublin, Calif., company is focusing on technology, he said. In ASE (Adaptive Server Enterprise) 15.0.2, announced July 30, customers can encrypt individual columns with a single command, instead of needing to encrypt a full table or the entire database. The upcoming version of ASE, now in beta, features capabilities similar to Oracle RAC (Real Application Clusters).

"Oracle has enjoyed no competition, virtually no competition, in clustering for four years with their RAC," Chen said. "Four years. Well, this is the first time they will see some. We are the only two that will have it."

Still, deeper penetration of the market is difficult, he said.

"People are not moving off Sybase for the same reason they are not moving off Oracle," Chen said. "The next-generation database, which is where our analytics platform comes in, thats going to be the new battlefront on how we will gain new customers."

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