Sybase upgrades PowerBuilder, plots RFID move

Sybase Inc. released a new version of its application development tool on Monday, called PowerBuilder 10, and outlined plans for an upgrade to its database software, Adaptive Server Enterprise, which will go into beta at the end of this month and is due for release next year.

The announcements were made at Sybase's annual user conference in Orlando, where the company is also previewing a system for managing RFID (radio frequency identification) data that is planned for release later this year.

Through its iAnywhere Solutions Inc. subsidiary, Sybase has spent much of the last year releasing products for building and deploying applications for mobile workers. At its user show this week it will focus on investments it has made in its core product families, said Kathleen Schaub, Sybase vice president of marketing.

PowerBuilder 10 aims to provide better support for developers working in mixed platform environments that include Microsoft Corp.'s .Net software. It adds a plug-in for PowerDesigner, Sybase's modelling tool for extending existing applications or reverse-engineering them for different architectures.

The upgrade also adds Unicode support, allowing developers to build applications once and deploy them in multiple languages, including those with double-byte characters. Pricing is US$2,995, or $645 for an upgrade subscription plan, the company said.

Version 15 of Adaptive Server Enterprise (ASE) is scheduled for final release in mid-2005, said Tom Traubitz, a Sybase senior product marketing manager. It will store larger amounts of data and run more complex queries than the current ASE, he said. Customers will also be able to partition the database into areas that can be managed and operated separately, reducing maintenance costs, Traubitz said.

Other areas of focus include easing the development of applications, partly through XML (Extensible Markup Language) indexing and improving security through native data encryption.

Sybase will also preview a system for tracking RFID data that draws upon existing Sybase products as well as new technologies the company is developing or has acquired, Schaub said. She declined to describe the component parts in more detail.

The system involves a partnership with AeroScout, of San Mateo, California, which makes products for tracking the location of RFID tags. Sybase will provide middleware and data management components, helping customers make sense of the vast amounts of data that RFID systems can generate.

"RFID is definitely a communications and security problem, but it's also a data management problem because it explodes the amount of data coming into an organization," Schaub said.

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