July 25, 2019

July 25, 2019 | Larry Goldman | Senior Director, Product Marketing

For decades, Sybase, now SAP Adaptive Server Enterprise (ASE) and related products, has been a popular relational enterprise database management system. Customers appreciate the accelerated transaction processing, high availability, features for business continuity and data security, deployment options, and low total cost of ownership (TCO).

In recent years, however, SAP’s investment in Sybase / ASE (for simplicity, let’s just call it Sybase going forward) has seemingly slowed, primarily in favor of HANA and SAP’s overall cloud strategy. SAP has done little to show that Sybase is a key component of its forward-looking product roadmap, offering up relatively small enhancements since the release of 16.0 in 2014.

You may dismiss this as mere conjecture, in part because it is difficult to prove anything when SAP clearly avoids openly discussing Sybase. But let’s slip on our Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) gloves and lab coats and pull together the forensic evidence required to establish a credible case.

Five Indicators that Something Is Amiss with Sybase

1. SAP has declared the End of Mainstream Maintenance (EoMM) for ASE.

On November 29, 2018, SAP published Note 1922006 – “EoMM Dates for Adaptive Server Enterprise 15.0.3, 15.5, 15.7, and 16.0 – SAP ASE.” It clearly states that the EoMM for ASE 15.7 is 12/31/2020 and for ASE 16.0 is 12/31/2025. The note further defines EoMM as the end of all patches and enhancements, but not the end of support per se.

2. SAP has no real Sybase innovation to offer customers.

The last major release (16.0) of Sybase was over five years ago. In June, SAP quietly released road maps for SAP ASE and SAP Replication Server (after half a year of no roadmaps). Neither show new innovations planned for Sybase products, just incremental improvements on existing features. Instead, SAP would rather talk to customers about migrating to HANA, the cloud, or both, pushing their SAP Transformation Navigator as a tool to guide digital transformation – away from Sybase.

3. SAP has been laying off developers and support staff.

It’s no secret that SAP restructured this spring, laying off about 4,400 employees, nearly 450 of whom reside in California. Analysts and commentators have noted that this ties in with SAP’s cloud strategy since many of those selected were involved with advanced HANA database development and the ABAP programming language. Less well known publicly is that many of those laid off were in Sybase-related roles. If you’ve had trouble contacting your favorite Sybase expert, it is likely that he or she has been let go.

4. SAP isn’t promoting Sybase in the market.

A key indicator of strategic commitment is the amount of resources and marketing a company invests in a product line. There is no evidence of any real effort in the past year to promote or sustain Sybase / ASE products other than a single June conference in Washington, DC. There were no ASE talks at the 2019 SAPPHIRE NOW, and none planned for the fall TechEd programs. Search the SAP blog site, and no one has written anything in over a year. No new videos, no webcasts, no papers. That’s what we call “radio silence.”

5. Public interest in discussing Sybase has waned.

Despite thousands of existing, active deployments of Sybase, a deep Google search reveals little-to-no new activity for Sybase in the past year or more. A scan of Sybase User Groups like ISUG-TECH or larger communities like ASUG shows relatively little activity. Nor are any technical news, analysts, or research sites covering the product line. While this could just be a sign of users with “heads down, doing the work,” the dearth of event and materials certainly indicates a downward spiral of interest in the product line.

The Ominous Future: Sybase Support Will Suffer

The above indicators, while not enough to convict SAP, certainly document a pattern of anti-Sybase actions speaking louder than words. In June, after prodding and poking from vocal SAP customers and partners, SAP renewed its efforts to reassure that Sybase will still be supported, despite the EoMM dates.

Few customers will be satisfied for long if SAP continues to short Sybase of the attention and resources it deserves. If they have not yet done so, these customers are likely to see the quality of Sybase support plummet this year, as critical employees are let go or choose to leave. The slow march to EoMM means annual increases in support costs and decreases in the number of patches and available engineers to keep your Sybase products healthy.

Relax – Your Sybase Deployment Is Safe

Fortunately, Sybase customers do have an advantage over SAP: the option to move to third-party Sybase database support and managed services. Organizations are choosing to replace SAP-provided support with third-party Sybase support to save costs (62% average hard cost savings), extend the life of their existing databases and infrastructure, and receive a more responsive and comprehensive level of support than SAP provides.

Spinnaker Support employs a global team of application and technology experts to support the broad range of Sybase offerings. Our services span the database and the surrounding technologies to help ensure ongoing interoperability. We offer ongoing support and services for both stand-alone Sybase applications and Sybase in combination with other SAP and Oracle enterprise applications.

Third-party support buys you the time to plan your database strategy, whether it’s a migration to the cloud, a move to HANA or another platform, or a longer-term “wait and see” approach. Rest assured, we care about Sybase as much as you do.

Download our Sybase Product Brochure for all the details on how Spinnaker Support can ensure the health and safety of your Sybase investment.