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PowerBuilder: Article

Reliving the Exciting Days of Old

Reliving the Exciting Days of Old

San Diego - the city by the bay - hosted TechWave 2001, August 12-16, and by all indications the city and Sybase did a great job. As the Sybase loyal fought the economic slowdown and budget cuts to attend the annual gathering, Sybase prepared a show that harkened back to the exciting days of old.

With 15 new announcements, including the release of ASE 12.5, PowerBuilder 8.0, EAServer 4.0, and the new Enterprise Portal - Express Edition, Sybase made sure that the 2,300+ people in attendance, including over 70 reporters and industry analysts, had plenty to see, hear, and learn about.

San Diego was a wonderful host city for TechWave. With pleasant temperatures, low humidity, and a beautiful pool overlooking the marina and bay, the stage was set for some good news. And Sybase did not let anyone down. As demonstrated by some well-choreographed rope climbers in the general session, we were told that leadership and strength are enabling Sybase to maintain its position. Next, a group of gymnasts reflected how the company knows which hoops it needs to jump through while maintaining its ability to bring it all together, thus revealing the new corporate mantra, "Everything works better when everything works together."

John Chen started the week off with his best TechWave speech yet stressing that being open and modular are what sets Sybase apart and makes it easier for its customers to do e-business anytime, anywhere. After four years at the Sybase helm, Chen made it clear that the company is at its strongest point. If you've been predicting the demise of Sybase, you might want to recheck your logic. After 13 consecutive quarters of profitability, it should be clear that Sybase is surviving the economic slowdown. With a 68% market share for its mobile database products, ASA and UltraLite, the company has achieved status as the "Oracle of the embedded DB world."

If you're wondering if Sybase is walking away from its core tools and database business (what with all of the focus on mobile servers, wireless markets, and the vertical business solutions), the good news is that Chen isn't going to allow that to happen. He laid out a strategy of increasing revenue volume through closer partnerships with system integrators, increasing share in the database and tools markets through more aggressive advertising, all while maintaining a position as one of the "top three" in each of the growth markets (e-business infrastructure, m-business solutions, and v-business solutions). Now those of us who are partners have heard plans before for Sybase to do more with its partners, and most of us have become calloused whenever we hear it again. After all, you can cry wolf only so many times. However, Chen seems serious about his commitments to Sybase partners and made it clear that they'll have a lot of opportunities with the company this year, especially in the e-business space that the Enterprise Portal products are aimed at.

After hearing from John Chen, it was time to head off to the more than 180 technical sessions covering all the new and current technologies. The sessions were organized into six tracks and all of them focused on e-business, including enterprise portals, enterprise application integration, application development and deployment, and e-business infrastructure and solutions. The message from Sybase was clear: if you aren't already doing it, you better start using your database, development, and technology skills to enable your organization to compete in the e-economy.

In the sessions that I attended, it was clear that the attendees were getting a lot of value from TechWave. And it was also clear that a lot of people were excited about the many new products Sybase launched that week. However, Sybase has been listening to the environmental folks a little too much and as a consequence has cut back on the number of sessions that provided handouts of the slides. In fact, they plan to completely eliminate handouts for the afternoon sessions next year (they'll still be provided electronically on the Sybase Web site and the ISUG member CD following TechWave). Now, I'm as environmentally sensitive as the next guy, but I really like having the slides available to make my notes instead of trying to write everything down. Hopefully Sybase will recognize their value and will reconsider the "Save the Trees" campaign.

So, with much to see and learn, it was difficult to find enough time to spend with the 54 partners, customers, subsidiaries, and divisions who manned the exhibit booths. Nevertheless, I made it by enough booths to come home with the requisite toys for my children and enough technical material to keep my developers busy for months.

There were plenty of celebrations at TechWave. With the announcement of PowerBuilder 8 and a huge birthday cake and balloons, Sybase celebrated the 10-year anniversary of PowerBuilder. And no review of the conference would be complete without mention of the social events. From the opening reception to the special-event block party, Sybase made sure that everyone had a little fun in addition to all of the high-tech learning. The iAnywhere folks sponsored a great golf outing that highlighted the iAnywhere Wireless Golf Scoring application. This technology allowed golf scores to be entered after every hole and the leaders' board to be viewed from the comfort of your golf cart.

There's much to learn in the Sybase world. After having a few ho-hum conferences, it was good to see everyone happy and excited about the future. Just as it's reassuring to know that our investments of time and money in Sybase and its products are safe.

Next month Greg Bloodworth will present his experience at TechWave.

More Stories By Jeffrey L. Roberts

Jeffrey L. Roberts, president of CCS Consulting in Atlanta, is an accomplished consultant, software developer, and technology instructor with over 21 years of information systems experience.

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