Sybase shifts focus, expands local headcount

Since leaving Cognos three months ago and taking on the role of Sybase A/NZ managing director, Robert Zalums has been quietly ramping up operations at the database vendor and expanding headcount locally.

Zalums has appointed 10 new staff in Australia since joining Sybase, and is planning to recruit another 15.

In October the company is expected to announce the appointment of an executive from one of Australia's biggest telcos whose role will be to ramp up business in the that sector for Sybase.

Claiming he has a "grander vision" for Sybase, Zalums said the company is undergoing a significant shift.

"To be the dominant database vendor is no longer our goal; we want to be the leader in the unwired enterprise," he said adding that the company is diversifying its focus.

"Most people don't realize our strength in mobile apps, middleware and BI acceleration."

Databases are still big business and Zalum claims it generates $US4.5 billion a year and is growing annually at eight percent.

But the company has big plans and this includes a lot more communication with customers and exploiting current market conditions.

"Oracle is juggling an awful lot of balls, it's hard to keep an eye on all of them," Zalums said.

"Acquisitions are consuming Oracle; what's interesting is that Oracle purchased Siebel, which is an archrival to which runs on Oracle. "Fortunately we are agnostic and that is what we are about."

Only last week Sybase announced the release of a major new version of its database software, ASE (Adaptive Server Enterprise) 15. The update focuses on greater security and scalability features, with significant advances in areas such as encryption and manageability.

One key feature in ASE 15 is a new query processing engine intended to lower users' operating costs and improve performance.

Customers are no longer using databases only for transactional processing; increasingly, they're simultaneously running analytics software to mine stored information. ASE 15's new engine is designed to handle the performance demands of mixed workload environments running both OLTP (online transaction processing) and DSS (decision support systems) applications, according to Sybase.

Data security is another focus area in the ASE 15 which introduces a new on-disk encryption system intended to protect data without requiring application modifications. It also includes a permission-based security system for encryption keys, providing them only to designated users.

Sybase's current ASE architecture, version 12.5, debuted in 2001 and received its last serious overhaul 18 months ago.

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