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Sun, Sybase get moving on Java

The companies say their new technology combo will allow developers to deliver applications that enable mobile workers to securely access corporate data.

Sun Microsystems and Sybase today announced a Java deal that could someday stretch beyond the enterprise market to the networked home arena.

The two software companies plan to combine Sybase's database technology, SQL Anywhere Studio and its UltraLite deployment feature and Sun Java interfaces.

The companies said the new combination will allow developers to deliver applications that enable mobile workers to securely access corporate data on network-enabled devices.

Analysts said the deal furthers Sun's entry into the consumer embedded market, and means that Sybase will gain further recognition from Java developers.

"It also is an important validation for Java technology and the network computing" idea, said Paul Zorfass, an analyst with International Data Corporation. "Sun is... not a database company. They need other companies that build these other products to support their technology."

Sybase SQL Anywhere Studio combines a mobile database with a suite of replication, design, and administration tools for rapid development and deployment of mobile computing applications. Sybase's UltraLite deployment technology for SQL Anywhere provides an SQL database engine for consumer and embedded devices.

"The deal also extends Sybase's support for Java users," said Carl Olofson, an analyst with IDC.

Sybase and Sun plan to collaborate on joint marketing and strategic customer development to support the new initiative.

"By utilizing Sun's Java technology, mobile and embedded data solutions from Sybase can provide secure delivery of information to new categories of mobile users, which can significantly change the way companies conduct their business," Mark Tolliver, president, Consumer & Embedded, Sun Microsystems, said in a statement.

"This powerful technology will also enable enterprise customers to more easily update and deploy their database applications, making them more accessible and useful. Easy access to current information is a real advantage in today's fast-paced, competitive environment," Tolliver said.

Looking beyond the applications within the enterprise, the two companies see the initiative extending beyond the corporate market.

As consumer devices for the "networked home" emerge, the companies are betting that consumers will be able to leverage data-enabled value-added services, such as utility systems that can monitor usage and bill automatically, appliances that can call for repair when service is needed, automated food service delivery, and electronic commerce from the home.

"If you have a problem with a washing machine, the product that comes from this plan could provide a connection to maintenance data stored on a database back at the machine manufacturer," said Olofson.

But in order for this type of support to reach the home, companies need to have an infrastructure in place for it to happen, said Zorfass. "That's what this agreement starts to do," he said.

The deal extends Sybase's thirteen-year partnership with Sun, from jointly developing client/server technologies to now enabling a new type of Java technology-based product for the consumer and embedded market, explained Terry Stepien, vice president and general manager, Sybase's Mobile and Embedded Computing Division, Sybase.