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Sybase unveils latest version of ASE

The latest version of Adaptive Server Enterprise (ASE), release 12.5.1, has recently been unveiled by Sybase. This is currently in beta and is scheduled for general availability next month. Phil Howard comments in this column.

Market Analysis

Sybase unveils latest version of ASE
The latest version of Adaptive Server Enterprise (ASE), release 12.5.1, has recently been unveiled by Sybase. This is currently in beta and is scheduled for general availability next month.

Sybase takes a distinctly different view of the database market from most of its competition. Put simply, it believes in horses for courses. Rather than attempting to put everything into a single pot, like IBM or Oracle, it takes the position that it is better to have specific products that do specific tasks.

Thus Sybase has a separate database (Sybase IQ) for analytics and data warehousing and a separate product for replication, for example. This means that the code base for Sybase ASE should be significantly smaller, and more efficient, than those of its rivals.

This leads me on to the main emphasis in the new release of ASE and, indeed, to a major focus for the company going through the next 18 months. This is that the operational costs of deploying large databases have not kept up with the performance of the database itself. Sybase describes this is a lack of operational scalability. The resolution of this issue is nothing new: the implementation of more self-monitoring and self-tuning capabilities. Of course, this is what all the database vendors are doing but it is rather easier in the case of ASE, precisely because it is a more focused product.

Apart from a number of new individual features, the major functions introduced/enhanced in this release are a Job Scheduler and DB X-Ray. The former does what its name suggests but, more particularly, it also includes pre-configured, customisable templates for routine maintenance tasks such as automated resource and backup management. DB X-Ray, on the other hand (upgraded in this version), is a rather neat graphical tool, which was developed collaboratively in conjunction with BMC to ease the management process.

Another major focus for Sybase is support for Linux and it intends to port all of its infrastructure products to support this platform. Interestingly, the company has recently published benchmark data for very low-end (just 4 processors) performance on Linux/Intel to demonstrate how well the product scales at the bottom end of the market, as well as the top. There are, of course, a number of new performance features in this release including an enhanced version of SQL Expert and extended capabilities for the ASE optimiser.

Finally, there are a number of other significant new features in this release, including support for Web Services, LDAP authentication, real-time publication and subscription to a message queue (another major product emphasis), the beginnings of support for grid computing, and extended XML support. The latter is especially interesting as it is certainly more advanced than the XML support in either DB2 or SQL Server and that is arguably also the case with respect to Oracle.

Finally, one interesting new tool is PowerTransfer, which is available for free download. Effectively, it is a cross-platform migration tool, with built-in ETL (extract, transform and load) capabilities for helping companies to migrate to a Sybase ASE environment from either Oracle or SQL Server.

Cynics might suggest that this won't get much use but I wouldn't dismiss ASE as simply as that: amongst other things ASE has an excellent reputation for not falling over. That's more than you can say about some other products.

Copyright 2003. Originally published by, reprinted with permission. provides IT decision makers with free daily e-mails containing news analysis, member-only discussion forums, free research, technology spotlights and free on-line consultancy. To register for a free e-mail subscription, click here.

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