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Sybase makes e-commerce pitch

Sybase ships its updated application server and PowerJ and PowerBuilder development tools, touting them as the software needed to create Web sites for e-commerce.

Sybase wants its slice of the e-commerce pie.

Sybase has begun shipping its updated application server and PowerJ and PowerBuilder development tools, touting them as the software needed to create Web sites for e-commerce, employees within a company, and business partners.

The release comes five months after a company-wide restructuring that spawned the new Internet applications division, and one week after database rival Informix began selling its own e-commerce software.

Like Informix, Sybase has battled hard to become profitable. Last December, the Emeryville, California-based firm capped off a year-long restructuring plan by creating four divisions--mobile computing, enterprise computing, business intelligence tools, and Internet applications--to take advantage of markets that are growing faster than its sagging database business.

Sybase today began shipping the Sybase Enterprise Application Studio 3.0, which features its application server, Java-based toolset called PowerJ and its PowerBuilder database application development tool.

The tools are tightly integrated with the application server, allowing developers to seamlessly code and make changes to applications, Sybase executives said.

The Enterprise Application Server 3.0 supports XML, Corba, and some level of Enterprise JavaBeans (EJB), said Michael Merritt, Sybase's senior director for the Enterprise Application Server.

New features include a software connector to IBM's Customer Information Control System (CICS), a software package used for processing transactions; load balancing; which gives the ability to distribute transactions evenly so it won't overload any one system; and the automatic replication of applications in back-up servers.

PowerBuilder 7.0 features support for Oracle 8 and an improved user interface, while PowerJ 3.0 supports Java 2.

The integrated products allow developers to easily point and click to create HTML or Java graphical user interfaces, Merritt said.

Future versions of the application server will include full support of EJB 1.0, Merritt said. An application server geared toward the financial industry is in beta and will ship in the 1999 second quarter. The company is also looking into creating application servers for the healthcare and telecommunications markets, he said.

The Enterprise Application Server costs $2,995 per CPU, while PowerBuilder 7.0 costs $2,995. PowerJ, which used to cost $1,495, is now priced at $595. The Enterprise Application Studio, which includes both tools and a developer's edition of the application server, costs $3,445.