Sybase Puts Linux Database on IBM's OpenPower Platform

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Updated: Sybase has hooked up with IBM to put ASE on IBM's Linux-tuned eServer OpenPower-based systems, in a move that will help push IBM further into financial services.

Sybase Inc. has hooked up with IBM to put Sybase's relational database, ASE (Adaptive Server Enterprise), on IBM's Linux-tuned eServer OpenPower-based systems, the company announced on Tuesday.

ASE for Linux will run on IBM's Power5 microprocessor-based servers, which are tuned specifically for Linux environments.

The companies are planning to jointly sell and market ASE worldwide, with a particular emphasis on the financial services industry.

According to David Jacobson, senior director of product marketing for Sybase's data management and tools product lines, the partnership will provide 24x7 support, backed by more than 1,000 Linux experts.

Jacobson described the partnership as Sybase's response to a surprising surge in customer demand for products running on Linux—which he said is in itself a response to dire economic straits.

"It's been a pretty tough economy over the past few years," said Jacobson, in Dublin, Calif. "Most customers have been forced to substantially reduce their costs. IT reductions have to be done, but they can't bring additional risks to their IT environments. Risk is out of the question."

Read more here about IBM's Linux-only server line.

Jacobson said the IBM-Sybase partnership is geared toward providing IT cost savings without incurring risk. Noel Yuhanna, an analyst at Forrester Research, agreed that the partnership will answer the growing demand for running secure, lower-cost scenarios with databases on Linux.

"Linux is good in environments, but enterprises are wanting reliable solutions on Linux," said Yuhanna, in Santa Clara, Calif. "The maturity of Linux is not there yet. Having the combination of multiple vendors as a solution helps customers in both cost savings and reliability."

As far as cost savings go, the partnership is geared toward threatening two of Sybase's RDBMS (relational database management system) rivals: Microsoft Corp., with its combination of SQL Server running on Windows, and Oracle Corp., with its combination of Oracle databases on Linux running on Dell Inc. servers.

"Microsoft, they dropped support for [Windows] NT," Jacobson said. "We're seeing a lot of customers interested in migrating to Sybase.

"Lastly, with Oracle, anybody who pays 38 percent more for a database will pay 38 percent more for service and support."

Next Page: Running faster at a lower cost?

Jacobson claimed that OpenPower machines run between 15 percent and 50 percent faster than Dell's 64-bit, four-way server boxes, "depending on which tests you look at," and that OpenPower machines cost 15 percent less, to boot.

Of course, IBM, in addition to partnering with Sybase, is also an RDBMS rival of the company's with its DB2 Universal Database.

Gary Schneider, director of Linux and DB2 information management at IBM, called the partnership a "powerful thing" for IBM's Server group, regardless of whether customers choose to run IBM or Sybase databases.

"In my opinion, it's Sybase's attempt to fend off threats from Microsoft as they try to scale up into the Solaris environment," said Schneider, in Somers, N.Y. "They want to protect their installed base. They see that Linux is the future. As opposed to whom they partner with."

Besides, the competition between ASE and DB2 won't abate, Schneider said. "That battle will continue," he said. "The important thing to remember is that DB2, with [Version 8.2], we exploited a lot of the Linux kernel features.

"We're the first database for Linux on OpenPower. … It's a good move for the IBM Server team," Schneider said. "We look forward to having lots of competitive fights with them."

While Sybase, of Dublin, Calif., has long had only modest RDBMS (relational database management system) market share, the financial services sector is one market in which it shines.

It is also a market in which IBM has been evincing interest for some time. The company launched an initiative in January 2003 to fine-tune grid offerings for various vertical industries, including financial services. Since then, it has been touting its grid management capabilities in helping banks to perform high-performance computing for tasks such as market modeling.

To read more about IBM's claim to the title of financial services grid king, click here.

"IBM is committed to providing customers with Linux solutions that help them achieve peak performance with a low total cost of ownership," said Per Larsen, vice president for eServer pSeries at IBM, in a release.

Sybase ASE for Linux on IBM OpenPower will be available in the first quarter of 2005.

Editor's Note: This story was updated to include information and comments from Sybase and IBM officials.

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Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for eWEEK.com and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on eWEEK.com, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

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