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What is it?
Sybase is one of the big four relational database suppliers and was once a serious competitor to Oracle at the top of the market.
Sybase is the fourth largest player in the market, with about 3% of sales. Oracle and IBM (its sales swollen by the acquisition of Informix) contest the top spot, each with about 33% of the market. Microsoft is third with SQL Server.
Sybase was always more of a niche player than the others and was strongest in the financial services sector. It provides business continuity and unstoppable computing solutions and offers a straight-through processing system for brokers and traders. Sybase database administrators in the City are among the best remunerated of database specialists.
Sybase now has other strings to its bow, with a comprehensive middleware offering including the former New Era of Networks enterprise application integration products. It has also acquired the Powerbuilder development tool.
More recently, Sybase has emerged as the leading supplier of mobile databases. Its iAnywhere product outsold Oracle's offering by a factor of 10 and, according to Gartner, Sybase has captured three quarters of this still small but potentially very important market.
Where did it originate?
Founded in 1984, Sybase was an early champion of client/server architectures. Most of its application development tools and some of its middleware products have come via acquisitions such as Powersoft and Neon.
What is it for?
Application building and serving, database management and datawarehousing, e-business infrastructure and mobile computing.
Sybase renamed its relational database the Adaptive Server Enterprise and redesigned itfor e-business with the abilityto handle Enterprise Java Bean components and an XQL query engine for XML documents.
The Sybase Replication Server is able to mirror all or parts of the enterprise database on other servers to provide business continuity in the event of a system crash or planned downtime.
What makes it special?
A chance to get into the mobile data business before the market really takes off. If you have a background in financial services, you could try for that highly paid Sybase job in the City.
How difficult is it to master?
To undertake any Sybase training, you will need a basic understanding of SQL and database concepts. Experienced database professionals can take fast-track courses which promise to make you productive with Adaptive Server in five days.
Where is it used?
Customers include Prudential, Unilever, Liverpool City Council and the World Food Programme.
What systems does it run on?
Unix, Windows and Linux.
Do not confuse...
Adaptive Server with an ambidextrous tennis player.
What is coming up?
ASE 12.5.1, which includes new self-management, content management, integration technologies and enhanced security and privacy controls.
Not a lot of people know that...
SQL Server was jointly developed by Microsoft and Sybase.
A list of Sybase training facilities and authorised training partners with courses and dates can be obtained from www.sybase.co.uk. Fees are high, at £2,000 for a five-day course or £880 for two days. You will need to complete at least three courses before you are eligible for Sybase professional certification, which most employers now look for.
Rates of pay
The demand for Sybase in the City has pushed rates up, with salaries for developers and application support starting at about £35,000. Most jobs are in London and the South East and all will ask for experience.