Sybase's free ASE database leaves developers bewildered

A week after Sybase's release of a free version the Adaptive Server Enterprise (ASE) database, developers and DBAs are unclear...

A week after Sybase's release of a free version the Adaptive Server Enterprise (ASE) database, developers and DBAs are unclear who Sybase is targeting - MS SQL or PostgreSQL or both.

When Sybase launched a free version of their flagship database for Linux, Sybase ASE Express Edition for Linux, developers naturally stopped to take a look since many are on the look out for an alternative to Microsoft SQL Server.

Sybase claimed the ASE as "the first enterprise-class commercial database that can take you from pilot to deployment for zero dollars and zero risk".

That claim, a reference to Sybase's contention that this new edition involves zero software licensing costs and zero maintenance costs, particularly caught the community's attention.

The company describes how with ASE Express Edition for Linux developers will be able to develop a pilot project on Linux "without cost or risk and without scrimping on performance or manageability".

"Since it's an industrial-strength data management platform you'll be able to handle growth and evolving requirements without painful, expensive upgrades," Sybase said.

The terms and conditions for the Sybase ASE Express Edition for Linux includes:

  • ASE Express Edition is limited to use of one CPU, 5GBytes of data storage and 2GBytes of Ram.
  • No other purchase is required.
  • Optional support plans, including telephone support and named support contacts, are available starting at $2200 a year.
  • Advanced support plans are also available.

However, IT columnist David Berlind, said there are too many limitations to the release.

Since ASE for Linux "is free only in specific configurations", perhaps judgement should be reserved, he said, noting that the one-CPU rule was very restrictive.

Other critics remained unconvinces that the 5GBytes of storage was enough in this day and age, when other projects using free, open-source databases tend offer as much 10GBytes to 20GBytes.

Jerry Schuman, chief technology officer of VERSIFI Technologies has no qualms at all about the database.

"Sybase ASE gives us the most bang for the buck in e-business functionality, performance and scalability," he said. "That's why we develop on it ourselves and why we recommend it to our customers."

Supporters of the whole ASE initiative were quick to point out that Sybase is supported by numerous open-source projects, including sqsh (SQL shell), FreeTDS, and SybPerl, and claimed that indeed ASE Express makes it easy to convert from Microsoft SQL.

"Imagine thousands of independent software developers with an alternative to MSQL within easy reach," wrote one to the Slashdot discussion site. Another observed that, rather than targeting MS SQL, Sybase seem to be targeting mostly Linux developers - so it is competition for PostgreSQL.

Written by LinuxWorld staff

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