SAP announces success of ASE

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SAP has just announced that 1,000 users (with over 2,000 installations) of its Business Suite software have chosen to run that on Sybase Adaptive Server Enterprise (ASE) since that possibility become generally available 18 months ago. I can’t say that I am surprised but it raises a number of interesting questions.

The first question is: if Sybase had not been acquired by SAP but ASE supported SAP software would anybody have bought it? And the obvious answer is no: ASE’s user base had been static for years and whatever software it supported would not have made much difference to the size of its user base.

Let’s be clear: ASE is essentially the same now as it was before SAP acquired it. So, why are people licensing it now when they weren’t then? Is it because SAP have great sales people and Sybase’s sales force (if, indeed, they were different) was awful? That the latter couldn’t explain, for example, the cost of ownership benefits of ASE when compared to Oracle? I don’t think so.

Another possibility is that SAP is offering amazingly good deals if you use ASE as a platform. I don’t know about that. But I do know that even if that is true, you wouldn’t have accepted such an offer if the performance and reliability figures of ASE didn’t stack up. But of course they do. One of the things that ASE has always had going for it is that it is really good at this sort of thing, not to mention requiring relatively little database administration.

A further possibility for not licencing ASE previously was that you didn’t trust the long-term viability of the company and its products. But, while not in the same league as SAP, Sybase was hardly a company to sniff at—SAP acquired it for $5.8bn—so this really doesn’t hold water: companies of that size, with long-standing customers (many of them major organisations) don’t simply die and fade away, even if they do get acquired.

So, what does this all come down to? The truth is that ASE was always a leading transactional database in terms of its features and functions but far too many people (you?) bought into the hype from competing vendors like Oracle and IBM that it was out-of-date, past its best and was, in effect, a legacy database. I, and I am sure, other analysts, wrote and said nice things about ASE but you (?) didn’t listen to us.

Leopards, as we all know, don’t change their spots: ASE was technically always a leading transactional database. I’m very pleased to see its resurgence.