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Sybase offers database to go

The company gives developers a peek at the small "fingerprint" version of Adaptive Server Anywhere, intended for Windows CE-based mobile devices.

Sybase (SYBS) is shrinking its already diminutive Adaptive Server Anywhere database down to palmtop size.

The company today gave developers a peek at what it terms a small "fingerprint" version of the database intended for Windows CE-based mobile devices, such as the Palm PC and the Auto PC.

The company previewed the database at Microsoft's Windows CE Developers Conference in San Jose, California. The database software is expected to ship later this year.

Sybase, along with Oracle and Microsoft, is investing additional development dollars into building software intended for mobile applications. Oracle is also building a Windows CE-based version of its Oracle Lite database software, expected to debut later this year.

Another database maker, Pervasive Software, is targeting the embedded systems market with its Pervasive.SQL database server software. The company has not yet announced a Windows CE version, but company spokesman John Wilkinson said Pervasive is "absolutely interested in that area, and we have an eye on the mobile arena."

Sybase and Oracle are faced with a saturated market for Unix-based software, the cash cow which has propelled database sales in the past. Looking for a new cash cow, the companies are pounding the pavement hawking mobile versions of their databases--and a dose of consulting--to companies that are building networks to link increasing numbers of mobile workers to the home office.

The Windows CE version of Adaptive Server Anywhere is intended to allow companies to deploy business information stored in massive databases to small mobile devices which have limited memory and storage resources.

The company plans to offer the new database software as an option to its Adaptive Server Anywhere database. A beta version of Adaptive Server Anywhere for Windows CE will ship in the second quarter, with the product's shipment slated for later this year, Sybase said.

While Adaptive Server Anywhere is expected to appeal to Sybase's user base, at least one analyst said that buyers will find prewritten applications for Windows CE even more appealing. "For a Sybase shop, committed to Sybase, this is interesting. But most people are asking for applications that they can use out-of-the-box," Rob Tholemeier, an analyst with First Albany, said.