Sybase's ASE expands
Improved database environment
Sybase has recently made a couple of new product announcements that will have a significant impact on the performance of ASE implementations. I need to be careful here: these are new products that improve the performance of the database environment, not the database itself.
The two products are Sybase Dynamic Archive and Sybase Mirror Activator, and I will discuss each of these in turn.
Sybase Dynamic Archive is the result of a joint development between Sybase and OuterBay. The latter, as the name of the product suggests, specialises in data archival. There are lots of reasons for implementing archival policies (to meet increased regulatory requirements, reduce media costs, and so on), but I want to concentrate on the implication it has on performance.
In its press release, Sybase estimates that the performance of database applications can be improved by anything between 30 and 80 per cent through use of Sybase Dynamic Archive. I am not in a position to endorse these figures (or not), but they do not seem unreasonable. So, how is this achieved? Put simply, the software allows you to identify inactive data and transfer that data to a different location.
This means that the amount of data that is stored in your operational database is reduced, usually substantially. Moreover, if you reduce the amount of data you also reduce the size of your indexes. Put together, this reduction means performance is improved. But isn't there a downside? No, not really. The big point to note is that this transferred data remains accessible: to the applications that need access to this data it remains available in a transparent manner.
The Sybase Mirror Activator is also a multi-purpose product. It provides a warm stand-by database facility so it will improve failover and high availability but, again, this is not my main interest, which is performance. What Sybase Mirror Activator allows you to do is similar (but different) to what Oracle does with its Daily Business Intelligence (DBI) product as it leverages the Oracle database's Real Application Clusters. That is, it allows you to run queries against the standby database, although DBI, of course, is a packaged set of applications rather than generic.
Off-loading queries to a separate database, which you need anyway for standby purposes, has similar performance advantages to moving data off the operational database: because the operational system now has less to do, it can perform better.
There are substantial non-performance advantages to both Dynamic Archive and Mirror Activator, and these may well justify the investment in these applications by themselves. However, it's equally true that the performance benefits to be derived from these applications could show a decent ROI all on their own. Sybase ASE users should certainly have a look at these products, which the company intends to expand to other database environments in the future.