When IBM teamed up with perpetual startup, ANTs Software, to try and steal customers of our Adaptive Server Enterprise database, it reminded me of a popular children’s story. I know it’s a stretch; stay with me.
Based on an Aesop’s Fable, The Ant and the Elephant tells the story of an ant who gets stranded in the middle of a fast-flowing river and is saved by an elephant. After the elephant gets trapped in a ravine, the ant returns the favor.
There are some parallels between that story and IBM and ANTs. IBM had $104 billion in revenue last year. Lou Gerstner’s book about his tenure as CEO of IBM was titled Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?
Similarly, IBM has long been trapped in second place in the relational database market, with its DB2 long lagging Oracle.
Enter ANTs, which has been hawking its database technology under different guises for the past decade, losing $134 million in the process. Unabashed, ANTs just announced plans to sell up to 26.67 million new shares on the OTC Exchange where it is traded.
Clearly, ANTs sees IBM as its pachydermic savior. And IBM hopes its tiny partner will pay it back, too.
The parallels end there. ASE customers are the most happy and satisfied (92%, according to a recent survey) in the business. Some of our Wall Street users have been with us for more than two decades. They aren’t going to switch simply because of the Siren Song of Short-Term Savings.
Not that competitors haven’t tried. In fact, ANTs two years ago tried to spin itself as a Sybase-to-Oracle solution, a strategy ANTs’ CEO admitted was a failure.
The reason? No matter how great the migration tools are claimed to be, it still takes a huge amount of work and investment to recreate a well-running database on another platform. And you still end up with an additional layer of complexity where things can, and often, mysteriously, go wrong.
Smart IT managers recognize this. That’s why such ‘solutions’ “never seem to sell well, says analyst Curt Monash.
And why switch out ASE, when it is:
- Rock-solid – the Mumbai Stock Exchange processes 4 million trades per day while networked to 400 cities.
- High-performance. 4 million trades a day
- Secure. According to CERT, no vulnerabilities in ASE have been reported in the last 12 months.
- A “technical leader,” according to IDC. Recent features include shared-disk clustering and in-memory DB, with the option to connect to Sybase’s Complex Event Processing (CEP) engine.
No wonder more than 30,000 enterprises use Sybase’s data management solutions, including over 1,000 new customers added last year. And that most top customers have migrated to our latest ASE 15.
Granted, enterprise data centers are huge, with a complex mix of technologies that administrators are continually tweaking. But don’t mistake an experiment for a major production rollout.
A senior IT official from one of the big banks that was allegedly switching from Sybase to DB2 e-mailed me after the IBM/ANTs announcement in May. There was no migration activity at all, he said, adding that translators such as IBM/ANTs ‘Skin’ “usually cause more trouble than they are worth.”
As for uncertainty created by the pending SAP acquisition: there is none. Sybase will continue to operate as an independent, wholly-owned subsidiary, allowing, as SAP co-CEO Hagemann Snabe says, Sybase’s “brand to continue to flourish.”
Fables are great for teaching our children what is right and wrong. But rarely do they mirror real life. That’s the moral of this story. Oh yeah, and stealing is bad.