Sybase has released a free, limited version of its software for deployment on Linux systems in a bid to expand the customer base for its database software.
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Sybase Adaptive Server Enterprise (ASE) Express Edition for Linux uses the same technology as Sybase's flagship ASE relational database management system, which competes against enterprise database software from Oracle, IBM and Microsoft.
The new ASE Express Edition is free for both development and production use, though it is limited to one CPU, 2Gbytes of Ram and 5Gbytes of total data storage.
David Jacobson, Sybase's senior director of database and tools marketing, said the company is releasing ASE Express for free in hopes of attracting customers who will later upgrade to Sybase's ASE Small Business Edition, which has a licence fee of $4,995 (£2,800) per processor, or Enterprise Edition, with a fee of $24,995 per processor.
"What we have found is that a lot of customers are turning to open-source databases because of tight budgets," Jacobson said. "But open-source databases are harder to use than conventional databases. You have to download, compile, develop, deploy and manage them."
Sybase hopes those customers will instead turn to its software. Although Sybase ASE is available for Windows, Linux and Unix, Sybase is releasing only ASE Express for Linux.
Forrester Research analyst Noel Yuhanna said the offering is a good way for Sybase to recapture some of the market share it has lost in recent years to Oracle, IBM and Microsoft.
"I think this will help customers have a second look at Sybase," he said. "It's definitely a good value proposition compared to open-source databases. Sybase is a very mature database, known for reliability, availability and performance."
Yuhanna's chief complaint about ASE Express is the tight limitation on data storage. For most customers, 5Gbytes is not enough. Projects using free, open-source databases tend to average 10Gbytes to 20Gbytes, he said.
"Five gigabytes isn't going to attract as many people," he said. "If it wants to compete, it needs to increase that."
Sybase partner Amit Okhandiar, president of consulting and services firm mLogica, said he expects to use ASE Express on several upcoming projects for customers.
"I'm dealing with a lot of midsize and small companies, and cost is definitely an issue for them," Okhandiar said. "Open source is a good way to go, but down the line, as they grow, it becomes an issue. They start small and look for a free program like MySQL, but the problem with MySQL is that they can't sustain themselves with it."
Stacy Cowley writes for IDG News Service