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The Future Keeps Getting Brighter!

The Future Keeps Getting Brighter!

A few days ago I attended the PowerBuilder 9.0 Launch Road Show, then spent the next two days at a TeamSybase meeting. These meetings are always a highlight of my year - we have about 12 hours of private, focused technical and marketing discussions with product engineers, managers, visionaries, and marketing and sales directors. Not only do we learn a lot about what is coming up, we also have the opportunity to influence the technology and marketing.

There are numerous new features already released or planned for upcoming releases, and there are even new products already in beta or soon to be. Being a technical magazine, PBDJ covers these in detail each month, but we don't often address Sybase's vision, trends, or forecasts for the software development markets. I want to focus on a few important market trends that Sybase is basing its future plans on.

During the PB9 Launch Road Show, Dave Fish and John Strano, the PowerBuilder technical evangelists, mapped out Sybase's plan for the next few years for PowerBuilder and related products. After the release of PB8 I had a wait-and-see attitude with regard to PB, specifically whether Sybase would charge ahead with the product or let it wither and die. Now, over a year later, I believe their slogan, "The future keeps getting brighter!" really does reflect their view of PB9, 10, and beyond.

An important market trend they're basing their plans on is indicated in a report by International Data Corporation (www.idc.com) showing that money spent on 4GL products has declined in recent years in proportion to the money spent on software development tools. Forecasts for 2003 through 2006 show tools dollars increasing from under $6 billion in 2002 to over $7 billion in 2006. The 4GL tools are projected to increase proportionally and continue to take the largest share of the pie. Since PowerBuilder is already a leading 4GL, Sybase wants to take it to the next generation and earn a significant piece of the growing market segment, which is forecasted to reach nearly $3 billion in 2006. A very important point for PowerBuilder is that it crosses the 4GL boundary and also falls into the "Web Professional Development Tools" category, which will account for about $1 billion per year by 2006.

Said Daphne Chung, senior analyst, software, IDC Asia/Pacific, "...the pressure to shorten development time frames and contain costs drives demand for a newer breed of tools from markets such as the RAD and 4GL."

Again, PowerBuilder falls into both of the categories mentioned: RAD and 4GL. Of course, the challenge lies in getting the word out, increasing market presence, and selling to new customers while holding on to the existing ones. That is a tall order, but one Sybase is taking seriously. Their plan is to create a new generation of 4GL they're calling "4GL+", which truly represents a unified development environment by including reverse engineering, modeling, and heterogeneous support for Java, J2EE, CORBA, C++, C#, VB.NET, Web services, XML, and more.

Other projections show that in the next few years nearly all organizations will adopt J2EE, .NET, or a combination of both with very little of the market falling outside of these camps. Therefore, Sybase's foundational commitment to providing "open" tools means that PowerBuilder will provide full development capabilities for both J2EE and .NET. Certainly that won't happen immediately, but they already have plans for progressively implementing those capabilities in releases in 2003, 2004, and 2005.

The PB9 Launch Road Show is finishing up its U.S. run, but it's gearing up for at least 19 stops in Europe. If you didn't have the opportunity to attend a Road Show event, ask your local Sybase Tools User Group or PB User Group to invite Sybase to bring the Road Show to your city. It's an event you shouldn't miss!

More Stories By John Olson

John D. Olson is a principal of Developower, Inc., a consulting company specializing in software solutions using Sybase development tools. A CPD Professional and charter member of TeamSybase, he is co-editor and author of two PB9 books, and the recipient of the ISUG Innovation and Achievement Award for 2003.

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