Sybase joins portal craze

Sybase has announced several new and upgraded products and outlined a strategy to profit by selling its software to companies that want to build corporate Web portals.

Sybase is well-positioned to take advantage of the rising demand for portal-building software because many of its products, such as databases, application development tools, middleware and data analysis wares, are needed for this task, said John Chen, the company's chairman, chief executive officer and president.

These type of portal-related products make up what has been termed the Enterprise Information Portal (EIP) market, according to Sybase. The goal of these corporate portals is to let users within a company gain access via a Web browser to data they need to make business decisions, Chen said. Thus, to build this type of portal, a company must integrate content, applications and legacy systems, he added.

Sybase quoted from a report by Merrill Lynch that said this market would reach $US14.8 billion by 2002.

The Delphi Group, a consultancy and market research company, agrees that the EIP market is poised for big growth.

"Sybase is making a very important and strategic bet -- that the portal market will be a space for differentiation," said Tom Koulopoulos, president of the Delphi Group.

Focusing on an emerging, high-growth market makes sense for Sybase, which has been a player traditionally in the now mature database market, the analyst added.

The consultancy, however, defines the market more narrowly than Sybase, leaving out, for example, databases, Koulopoulos said. The market was worth $US37 million in 1998, and is expected to grow to $US740 million by 2001, according to Delphi Group estimates, he said.

"An EIP aggregates content and applications in a single, personalised, Web-based desktop view," he said.

The Sybase products announced include:

-- Adaptive Server Enterprise 12.0. New features in this database upgrade include new Java support in the form of an integrated Java Virtual Machine, more XML (Extensible Markup Language) support for tasks such as storage and querying, and server failover support, Sybase said. The product is scheduled to ship in October or November of this year and pricing will be announced then.

-- Enterprise Event Broker. This new middleware product is part of the company's EnterpriseConnect family and is designed to capture, transform and deliver database events and information across applications. It supports messaging products from Tibco and IBM and is available now.

-- Beta version of PowerDesigner 7.0. This new version of this database modelling tool now supports object-oriented analysis and design to help database administrators create object-relational models. PowerDesigner 7.0 will be available for download from Sybase's Web site by the end of this month. It is expected to ship in the fourth quarter of 1999. Pricing will be announced then.

-- Three new Industry Warehouse Studios, which are packages of five data analysis customer relationship management applications. The new offerings are the Sybase Capital Markets Industry Warehouse Studio, the Sybase Life Insurance Industry Warehouse Studio and the Sybase Credit Card Industry Warehouse Studio. The products are scheduled to ship on September 1 for Unix and NT.

-- A new middleware product, codenamed "Open Door", is slated to be in beta by December 1999 and to ship in early 2000, a Sybase spokeswoman said.

Sybase also launched a program for companies interested in building electronic commerce systems. Called e-Map to e-Business, the program includes implementation methodologies, courses and consulting services. Sybase also announced a reseller agreement with Impact Innovations Group to design, build and install business intelligence systems using database and data analysis products from Sybase.

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