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Database makers plan upgrades

IBM and Sybase, locked in a battle for the number two slot among database software providers, will next week launch upgrades to their flagship products.

IBM (IBM) and Sybase (SYBS), locked in a battle for the number two slot among database software providers, will next week launch upgrades to their flagship products.

On Tuesday IBM will unveil DB2 Universal Database version 5, which for the first time includes integrated replication and parallel processing technology, along with Java support and Web server integration features, said Herschel Harris, manager of database technology at IBM's Toronto labs.

Sybase, also on Tuesday, will roll out Adaptive Server 11.5, a new incarnation of its database server formerly called SQL Server, along with a handful of middleware packages.

Both companies are battling for the runner-up spot behind market leader Oracle (ORCL). With financial troubles buffeting both Sybase and Informix Software (IFMX), the normally staid database market has opened up, said analysts.

IBM, long a leader in big-system database technology, hopes to capture a chunk of the emerging market for Windows NT-based database servers. Harris said DB2 5, which runs on NT, OS/2, and Unix, combines two prior versions of DB2, the 2.0 release of Universal Database and the separately priced Parallel Edition. The result is a single product that supports relational, text, video, and other data types and can scale from a single processor machine to a symmetric multiprocessing server.

DB2 5 also includes new management tools that simplify common tasks, such as adding users and scheduling backups. "Version 2.0 had an excellent engine, but the tools [included with it] were not so good," said Harris.

IBM has also simplified DB2 packaging. Harris said the company has trimmed its list of DB2 packages by 75 percent. Now the company will offer four packages?Personal, Workgroup, Enterprise, and Developer's Editions.

The company will also revamp pricing, but Harris would not comment on specifics of the plan.

Sybase's Adaptive Server Enterprise 11.5, which will also debut Tuesday along with other new Sybase technologies, is the keystone of Sybase's new component-based technology architecture announced in April.

Sybase will also officially roll out its Jaguar CTS transaction middleware and its dbQ message queuing software.

The company's new architecture, dubbed Adaptive Component Architecture, is a multitiered framework that includes new database technology for storing Java, ActiveX, and CORBA (Common Object Request Broker Architecture) components, along with the Jaguar CTS transaction middleware and new development tools announced last week.

The goal of the new product line--in addition to reigning the company's revenue growth--is to allow developers to build a single application that can run on client systems, application server middleware, or the company's database server, as well as support multiple object and relational data types.

Adaptive Server with row-level locking support will ship first to application software vendors. It will be generally available in the first quarter of next year, the company said.

Sybase is on the comeback trail following a series of money-losing quarters. Last month, the company posted its third consecutive profitable quarter, but missed analyst expectations as revenues continued to fall.