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It's all Java to start-up

Cloudscape, a company led by a who's who of industry heavyweights, will deliver database software for mobile systems written completely in Java.

A database software start-up led by a who's who of industry heavyweights will this month deliver database software for mobile systems written completely in Java.

Cloudscape, based in Oakland, California, said its JBMS lightweight Java-based relational database system will enter beta testing by month's end.

The company, led by former executives from Sybase, Informix Software, and Oracle, is hoping to capitalize on demand for small, downloadable, platform-independent software. Companies are seeking such software for use in a new generation of mobile computing hardware--from laptops and personal digital assistants to network computers and smart phones.

The company is targeting the same mobile market as Oracle and Sybase but is using Java to give it a technology edge. Oracle ships Personal Oracle Lite, a slimmed-down version of its Oracle 7.x database for mobile systems. Sybase sells a similar product called SQL Anywhere. Sybase will Wednesday begin beta testing on a new mobile database called Adaptive Server Anywhere. Both support Java data access, and Adaptive Server Anywhere can manage Java components. But neither is written from the ground up in Java for running within a Web browser.

That puts Cloudscape in a league of its own, said Morgan Gerhart, an analyst with The Meta Group. "I have not heard Sybase, Oracle, or anybody taking about building a core database engine in Java. Database vendors are talking about using Java as a language to build applications but not to build a system," he said.

The database, which can run in less than 1.5 megabytes of memory, is actually an object-relational data management system. This means it can handle images and text, as well as standard relational data.

Since it's written in Java, JBMS-based applications can run on any system with a Java virtual machine, including Web browsers and specialized hardware.

Cloudscape said the database includes built-in replication, making it ideal for use in mobile systems. Laptop users can, for instance, download a copy of a corporate database, complete with business logic, to their systems.

Another potential market is e-commerce, where virtual stores can embed JBMS into order entry applications as a way to transmit an electronic catalog over the Web. Once an order is placed, the catalog can be discarded.

JBMS, expected to ship in the first quarter of next year, is priced at $195 per developer or deployed copy.

The company plans additional Java-based products, including an interface from JBMS to relational databases, a replication hub for creation and management of subscriptions, and additional Java class libraries for extending JBMS to handle additional data types.

Cloudscape is backed and headed by a long list of database industry veterans. The company's board is chaired by Stewart Schuster, a partner with Brentwood Venture Capital, which funded the company, and a former executive vice president of marketing at Sybase. Additional backers include Roger Sippl, a founder of Informix and Visigenic Software, and Tom Haggin, a co-founder of Sybase. The company's vice president of engineering and acting CEO is Howard Torf, the first SQL Server development engineer at Sybase.