JDJ: How is Sybase implementing the Java technology?
Merritt: Actually, Sybase is implementing the Java technology in all three tiers. We have Java support in the database, in the middle tier and in the development and client site. I started the back-end move, back toward the client, and in the adaptive server family we actually support Java in the database.
We support Java store procedures, which are becoming more prominent across the database vendors. But we also support Java as a data type within tables within the database. This allows you to do powerful things.
Coming into the database, Sybase has award-winning JDBC activities, a type-4 pure Java JDBC implementation that's very well accepted and provides the type-4, meaning that you don't have to install anything. And since it's pure Java, you can download it. You can run it from anywhere.
In the middle tier, Sybase has the Sybase Enterprise Application Server, which we actually started some time before the whole Enterprise JavaBean effort began. We worked with JavaSoft on the Enterprise JavaBeans since the beginning and actually implemented our first production release over a year ago based on a nonpublic version of the EJB spec because the timing was a little bit off. But it was implementing the same level of abstraction and the same intent and purpose of Enterprise JavaBeans that you see today with the JB 1.0, and obviously we'll soon be EJB 1.0 compliant.
To pull that all together, we also have very strong support in the development tool arena with the PowerJ development tool. PowerJ provides the rapid application development environment that people have become used to, and it's tightly integrated with the deployment server with Enterprise Application Servers. You can browse components from within the development environment that are already deployed in the middle tier. You can create new components and deploy them directly into the middle tier with the click of a button, and you can do distributed debugging from the PowerJ development environment.
We're really excited about this integration because over the last few years productivity in application development has grown quite a bit, and when you start moving to distributed architectures, it drops that productivity down.
JDJ: What can Sybase offer mainstream development that other companies can't?
Merritt: In addition to the Java support, one strength our platform has is openness in terms of component models. We support more than Java. If you have C++ code, you can't just throw out everything you have; you have to be able to integrate the applications you already have and interface with them so that you can move forward.
To move existing customers and existing applications forward, there are three things people try to leverage. One is their code, one is their skill sets and the third is their data. Now Enterprise Application Server, our adaptor server family, allows them to migrate data. But in terms of moving applications, what we're really talking about is moving the code and the skill sets forward. So by supporting multiple component models and, for example, Enterprise Application Server, it allows people to leverage not only their code - at least to the extent that it's reusable in the new environment - but perhaps more important, the skill set they already have.
We also bring to the table the fact that we're an Enterprise customer. We're used to dealing with the Enterprise capabilities of applications. In fact, we've been doing distributed Enterprise applications for eight years, so there are many Enterprise production applications in Wall Street and all over that are based on Sybase's distributed architectures. This is just the next evolution.
We also have a huge strength in application development with all of our development tools, PowerJ, Power Builder, etc. We not only have the knowledge of what it takes to build and maintain applications in the Enterprise, but the whole paradigm of development.ment with all of our development tools, PowerJ, Power Builder, etc. So we not only have the knowledge of what it takes to build and maintain applications in the Enterprise, but the whole paradigm of development..
Director of Marketing
JDJ: Can you tell us a little bit about the award-winning product, HOW 2.0?
Roedner: HOW is a modeling tool, and it won the modeling tools category. We like to say that HOW extends the concept of modeling beyond just drawing pictures. In fact, the product's tag line is "Modeling is more than pictures." It's a modeling tool that's focused on business application developers. These are people who aren't necessarily going to have all the skill sets and the wherewithal to build serious applications with Java. The whole idea behind HOW is to augment their skills to provide some architecture out of the box and to make it easier for mainstream developers to develop large-scale business apps.
JDJ: And you also concentrate on the Enterprise JavaBeans?
Roedner: In the next release of HOW for Java we start generating EJB. We start generating session and EJ Beans out of business models that are built in-house. Our direction is to become very focused on Enterprise JavaBeans and EJB app servers and so on. If I had a dream, it would be that in a year we'd be perceived as the de facto standard modeling tool and deployment framework for building EJB-based app servers in the Java space.
JDJ: What are some other outstanding features of your product?
Roedner: We like to talk in terms of four really outstanding features, and I've mentioned most of them. One is its ease of use. Because our focus is on the business application developer, we've given a lot of thought to how a modeling tool ought to behave in that kind of context, and that shows up in a lot of ways, such as in the approach we take to present information to developers. It shows up in the documentation of the product and so on.
There are a variety of ways in which this is a very easy-to-use product as compared to other modeling tools. We built it on top of a real repository. This is a clear differentiator. Most of the modeling tools on the market don't have a repository. What this gives us is the ability to strongly support team development.
Our first release in the PowerBuilder market has proven to be a real strong selling point for us. In fact, we genuinely support team development, and things like sharing of application components down at the object and component level, which most people can't do.
Another thing that makes us stand out, as I suggested before, is a tight integration. In the case of Java, we work with virtually all the development environments. But that tight integration allows us to generate components into a development environment whether it's PowerBuilder or Visual Basic or Java. It's very smart of those environments. For example, our first-generation product - the PowerBuilder product - is very smart about how PowerBuilder works. We generate nonvisual objects to the middle tier. We're very aware of PowerBuilder foundation class and so on. You can say this is comparable to the BB and Java products.
I think the real differentiator for us is that we ship a framework with the product that allows us to fully integrate individual components from the pictures that developers build in HOW. This framework represents an architecture out of the box, and it's the glue that ties together all the application tiers that developers design and then generate. As a result, people using HOW generate working applications. They push a button and out comes an application that automatically operates in a distributive fashion - it's ready to go.