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Mobility Tail Wags the Sybase Database Business

Specialty DBMS vendor counts on secure delivery of data, messaging and intelligence as a boon to financial institutions and a key to long-term growth.
Sybase's latest big push to deliver information anywhere was the 2006 acquisition of Mobile 365 (now Sybase 365). While passing messages within a single network is easy, Sybase 365 ensured seamless handoffs of some 25 billion SMS and MMS messages among more than 720 carriers worldwide last year. That capability is viewed as crucial to financial services clients seeking to communicate with customers, be it security codes, real-time alerts, marketing campaigns or secure, two-way transactions from mobile devices. About two thirds of mobile subscribers in the Americas are interested in banking via their mobile devices, according to research commissioned by Sybase, but an equal percentage are also concerned about the security of such transactions.

Of course, all of the above involves data that's likely to be managed in ASE, but there's also a tie to Sybase IQ. "The long-term strategy is to hook messaging up to business intelligence," explains Gartner analyst Donald Feinberg. "If an analytic sales application reveals that sales on the West Coast are dropping, an alert could be sent off to the West Coast sales manager to find out what's going on."

So what was the news on the Trusted Infrastructure and Intelligent Enterprise fronts? Sybase introduced ASE version 15.0.2 late last month with upgrades in security, scalability, performance and archiving. "The release has a lot of new functionality of the kind we've seen from most DBMSs recently," says Feinberg. "I wouldn't say ASE is ahead of the competition, but they're certainly not behind, which is important when you're number four [after Oracle, Microsoft and IBM in terms of database license volumes]."

Most notable was a new Tiered Disk Cluster grid option designed to ensure ultra high availability. "It's similar to Oracle RAC, which is one area where Oracle has been ahead of everyone," acknowledges Schaub. "We're now the second database vendor to offer a clustered solution."

As for Sybase IQ, the company reported last week that its analytics server has experienced 31 percent growth over the last three years within the financial sector. IQ's competition includes Netezza and Vertica (the latter from database guru Michael Stonebreaker), but Sybase can draw on deep and longstanding relationships among financial institutions. The company reported last week that more than 200 top financial institutions now use IQ, including Barclays Global Investors, Citigroup, Credit Suisse Securities, Dun and Bradstreet, New York Stock Exchange and a bevy of leading banks in South America and the Pacific Rim.

Given that about 70 percent of the company's roughly $1 billion in revenue is driven by its databases and data integration products, it's clearly a big bet that mobility will be a long-term differentiator and source of continued growth.