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Sybase, IBM Embrace Over Linux

Sybase announced it has tailored its Linux-based database to run on rival IBM's eServer OpenPower systems, providing customers more choice in the increasingly popular market for Linux systems.

The deal is a snub to Sun Microsystems , which has enjoyed a long partnership cultivating software architectures with Sybase, partly to compete with Big Blue in the market for Java-based middleware.

Specifically, Sybase has reworked its Adaptive Server Enterprise (ASE) for Linux to run on IBM's OpenPower systems, which are based on the company's Power5 chips and work best with the Linux operating system.

Although Sybase and IBM compete in the database software market, both believe the agreement will be mutually beneficial because the vendors will be providing customers more choice at a lower cost.

The companies said they would jointly sell, market and provide services for ASE Linux on OpenPower systems worldwide but will target the lucrative financial services segment. Sybase ASE for Linux on IBM OpenPower systems will be available in the first quarter of 2005.

The timing of the deal doesn't hurt. Sales of servers running Linux continue to rise dramatically. Gartner said Linux sales ballooned 42.6 percent, with unit shipments up 31.7 year-over-year in the third quarter.

Sybase began licensing Sun's Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition (J2EE) in 2000. The two later put together a 25-terabyte data warehousing architecture.

This past summer, Sun and Sybase staked their claim in the burgeoning RFID market together, agreeing to make middleware that will move data from an RFID tag reader into an enterprise resource planning system.

Sybase hasn't moved away from its ASE database, but it has weakened in recent years, with market share ebbing with the strong tides from the big three in the space: Oracle, IBM and Microsoft.

But the Dublin, Calif., vendor has had other designs of late to tap new reaches in the market with its vision of the Unwired Enterprise. This strategy includes making products that help organizations manage data on the go. Sybase announced the initiative, along with Intel, last November.

To bolster the play, Sybase acquired XcelleNet, which makes software to help workers manage information from wireless devices and remote locations, for $95.2 million in cash.