Sybase, through announcements and messaging from its TechWave conference this week here in Las Vegas, appears in a stronger position than the conventional wisdom has held for second-tier software tools and infrastructure vendors. Sybase has carefully and quietly created a whole greater than the sum of its parts, and is setting itself up for future growth fueled by the far greater use of mobile endpoints to access and create enterprise data.
Three years ago the "unwired enterprise" was not a high priority on the buy side, but that is quickly changing. Enterprises that increasingly shift to a mobile device strategy for many of their workers bring the fruits of past datacenter investments into new activities. The combination of wireless data access and applications developed for mobile use allow companies to re-engineer processes to perform at the point of business -- virtually anywhere. Making critical data accessible safely via wireless devices makes mobility a new competitive advantage.
Sybase's products focus on securely managing the huge new volumes of data and increasingly delivering that data securely to the mobile devices tier. For example, a major rewrite of the core Sybase database platform, ASE 15.0, is designed to scale to terabyte stores and better inculcate the security needed for such mobile access. Other products, several from recent acquisitions, move Sybase into content management, advanced development, device security, unstructured data federation, improved analytics, and higher mobility efficiencies.
After drinking in the Sybase kool-aid for the first time in a few years, I am newly optimistic that Sybase will appeal to more businesses, as well as give its current users good reason to adopt newer technologies. That's because the emphasis on flexible data access and mobility moves Sybase closer to a business transformation value from its traditional infrastructure performance benefits.
If you are willing to bet that enterprises will be making more use of mobile access to applications and data, will move to RFID strategically, and will also cherish control and security over the mobile data and content they create, then Sybase's strategy makes great sense. But let's not forget that Sybase also continues to have stiff competition from other formidable like-minded vendors: IBM, Oracle, and Microsoft.
Yet with nearly a $1 billion in cash and a relatively strong growth record from the past quarter, Sybase's profile may be significantly lower than its future role in the business transformamtion effort. Sybase has been working toward the mobile access enterprise market for some time, and now the timing is beginning to look right for the market to quickly expand to Sybase's favor.