Thoughts on SAP and Sybase

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Thoughts on SAP and Sybase

On May 13, 2010, Posted by , In Mike Pilcher, By , With No Comments

There is a lot of buzz surrounding SAP’s just-announced acquisition of Sybase. I’ve been asked a lot of questions about it — what it means for the column-based database market in general and SAND CDBMS in specific — and thought I would share my take.

SAP is a smart company. The acquisition of Business Objects was a good decision and well executed, and this latest move has the making of another well-timed purchase.

However, you can’t change a company’s core business overnight. It took Sybase over a decade to move from being a leading transactional relational database vendor to being a leading mobile software company. SAP’s business is rooted in enterprise software applications, but they know the future of enterprise software is in mobile. Many other companies are seeing this trend and are also scrambling to move their applications onto mobile platforms.

The ongoing disruption of modern computing is moving toward ubiquitously connected, very personal, mobile devices. Massive, cloud-based data stores feeding fully capable mobile devices with easy-to-use software is the future. have done a great job of connecting the Enterprise Cloud with Enterprise Mobile. But Salesforce is also a relatively simple application with a homogeneous user profile, a recipe that has powered phenomenal growth. If only SAP were this simple.

SAP’s applications are highly complex and their users highly diverse. SAP’s core strength — managing tremendous complexity — has become their biggest challenge. Moving SAP into the cloud and connecting it to mobile applications is a major undertaking, but is the future of SAP. The acquisition of Sybase and their mobile suite of applications is a smart next step on this journey.

The question SAND has now been asked is this: With the drive toward mobile and Sybase’s stable of mobile products, what of Sybase IQ?

Sybase’s acquisition of IQ never really delivered any benefits. Sybase’s core business at the time was transactional, with sales and marketing arguments all about why transactional worked for everything.

They simply didn’t get column-based databases.

Under the leadership of John Chen, Sybase became a great mobile applications company, but IQ never made it either fully into the cloud or on mobile devices –- it was left hanging.

SAND is laser-focused on the belief transactional relational structures are simply the wrong data structure for analytic applications.

We’ve been proving this for the last 15 years. Driven by our customers and the genius of our visionaries, Ted Glaser, Arthur Ritchie, Richard Grondin, and Mike McCool we have taken the concept of column-based databases and built the most scalable, flexible, robust and easy-to-use column-based database in the market.

SAND is massively parallel and mobile deployable. SAND scales in the multi-hundred terabytes with 10,000+ users on one application.

(Yes, I said “on one application” not aggregated across instances like the numbers typically used by our competitors.)

SAND delivers scalability on demand, in the cloud, and with native connectivity that drives deep data integration. We’ve been doing this for more than a decade while others were sleeping or just getting their companies off the ground.

Perhaps SAP will re-purpose IQ or combine it with Sybase’s comparatively under-funded transactional relational product (remember that?) as they square off directly against Oracle. I believe SAP have a lot to do simply unpicking the myriad Sybase products and integrating them into the SAP product line of enterprise applications.

Already I have been fending off questions about what acquisitions this move will spark in the columnar space. I think none for now. SAP did not buy Sybase for IQ. The columnar market is growing like a weed, but isn’t on the radar of Oracle, IBM or other potential acquirers. Transactional relational vendors are throwing every argument, code line, and technology acquisition to create Frankenstein databases that the smart villagers are chasing out of town by torch light.

SAND customers know if you want scalable analytic data in the cloud for large data sets and access on mobile devices you need the right architecture for the task.

You don’t take a Hummer on a race track, and don’t use a transactional relational database when you need a Ferrari.

Mike Pilcher

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