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Sybase TechWave 2005 Conference Review

What's new for 2005

This year TechWave 2005 took place at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. For those of you who didn't make it, the following is a recap of the events, with a couple of thoughts and suggestions thrown in.

Sunday, August 21
Test Your Sybase Knowledge Gameshow
Four TeamSybase members (Millard Brown, Terry Voth, Mike Nicewarner, and myself) do battle against a team of Sybase employees. Each team took turns answering multiple-choice questions off a Jeopardy-style game board. Fifty percent of the questions were related to Sybase engineering and the rest were from other walks of life. There were two rounds with a tiebreaker question just in case. The audience had handhelds and played along. They had a chance to win some cool prizes (30GB iPods, PSPs, and Optic Nerve Sunglasses were up for grabs) at the end of each round (so to the audience it is really two games). Jonathan Baker (Sybase) was the emcee and "impartial" judge.

We (TeamSybase) got our clocks cleaned by the Sybase folks. We thought we might have a chance with categories like Sun, HP, Oracle, and Big Blue - turns out Sun was about the solar system, HP was about Harry Potter, Oracle about the Matrix, and Big Blue about the ocean. The audience seemed to enjoy it, particularly those who won prizes. For our own efforts, we received rubber chickens....

Monday, August 22
Opening Keynote
The illusionist Rick Thomas opened TechWave this year. His grand finale illusion involved a number of volunteers from the audience.

John Chen indicated that this year's TechWave set recent records for attendance (1,500) and sponsors. John then explained the four aspects of IT Transformation that he saw occurring: exploding data volume, open source software, industry consolidation, and adoption of mobility.

With regard to the adoption of mobility, he cited a conservative report that estimates that spending on mobility will double in the next five years, particularly outside of the United States. As a result, Gartner indicated that "[mobile and wireless] technologies must be at the strategic heart of every IT organization."

John then indicated that new major project releases in 2005 include or will include:

  • ASE 15.0
  • SQL Anywhere 10.0 - beta begins this week
  • Workspace
  • PowerBuilder 10.5
The ASE 15.0 launch will be done concurrently in London, New York, and Beijing. New features include very large database support, native data security without application changes, and efficient transaction processing with decision support. Improved features include lower total cost of ownership, faster transaction performance, and connectivity and support for unwired.

John indicated that there are three stages of mobility: mobilize e-mail, mobilize business applications, and change business processes. He also mentioned the four acquisitions they had made in the last year: Extended systems (not complete yet), Avaki, ISDD, and Excellenet.

There was a video highlighting a number of customers:

  • GSA Western Distribution Center - sixth largest electronic commerce site - uses RFID
  • BNSF Railway Company - document track maintenance on site
  • Habib American Bank
John indicated a number of achievements over the last year:
  • 700 new ASE customers
  • Mobile and wireless up 18%
  • iAnywhere up 35%
  • Partner license revenue up 14%
  • Leads from marketing up 12%, press coverage up 35%
  • Operating income up 19.8%
  • 913.4 M in cash
He indicated that the roadmap for the future entailed:
  • Data Services Platform
  • Mobile Business Suite
  • Unstructured Data Management
  • Continued Large Database Support
  • Enhanced Application Development Tools
  • AvantGo Media Services (pod-casting, videos, etc)
John was followed by a panel of industry representatives, which was chaired by Dennis Kneale, managing editor of Forbes. Dennis was joined by John Davies, vice president of sales, IBM; Kim Ross,CIO, Nielsen Media Research; David Yach, VP of software, RIM; and Tim Donahue, VP of business solutions, Sprint.

As for industry potential, IBM mentioned that there are 270 million field workers, 95% of whom are still using paper. RIM mentioned one of their customers, NetJets, uses mobile technology to transmit the day's flight information to their pilots. Sprint mentioned the health care industry and mobile enablement of patient information.

When asked about obstacles, IBM indicated that there is a need to develop technologies to allow seamless movement between different communication channels (Wi-Fi, LAN, GSM). Sprint indicated that management is an issue (wireless is the fastest growing IT cost) and that user acceptance is still an issue. Nielsen also indicated that management is an issue: plan what you're going to implement or you'll end up with dozens of incompatible solutions.

Monday, August 22
I didn't get to my a.m. session ("Modeling with PowerDesigner 11") because I was making last minute changes to the presentation for my own session in the afternoon; however, I did manage to catch most of Dave Fish's afternoon session - "Up Close with PowerBuilder 10.5." There was quite a lot of feedback on the new features being developed. I was somewhat concerned that there weren't that many in the audience who were participating in the beta. The more people who participate and the sooner they get involved and provide feedback, the better the end result will be.

Then came my own session "SOA with PowerBuilder/EAServer." It was well attended (I had one of the smaller rooms, but it was full) and from the people I talked to later it seems to have gone over well.

It took me a while to discover the Cypress Street Marketplace, about the only place within Caesars Palace where you can get a meal at a decent price. It's a bit better quality version of the food court you would find in most major shopping malls. It also has the Java Joint, which I visit regularly. As with last year's conference, the coffee served with the conference-supplied meals is mediocre and the cups are hardly large enough for a coffee addict like me.

Speaking of lunches, the ones served at the conference are typical, rather small and not a whole lot of choices. Still, I don't have it near as bad as folks like Steve Katz. Steve (as well as a number of other conference attendees) is an Orthodox Jew. Steve was sitting next to me when they delivered his kosher meal. It looked like a rather old airline meal. I loaned Steve my van (I drove to the conference) so he could run out and get a real meal. Breakfast is pretty much the same high-carb stuff, although yogurt and fruit was available. The Sybase reception Sunday night and the sponsor reception Monday night had great food, but either not enough or it wasn't coming fast enough. Often the tables were empty for a while, followed by a rush and a long line when it was finally replenished.

More Stories By Bruce Armstrong

Bruce Armstrong is a development lead with Integrated Data Services (www.get-integrated.com). A charter member of TeamSybase, he has been using PowerBuilder since version 1.0.B. He was a contributing author to SYS-CON's PowerBuilder 4.0 Secrets of the Masters and the editor of SAMs' PowerBuilder 9: Advanced Client/Server Development.

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