Of Sybase, iAnywhere and Extended Systems
For once the marketing is accurate
Analysis Sybase announced its intention to acquire Extended Systems at the end of July and it completed said purchase about six weeks ago. It is now briefing analysts and customers on its plans for Extended Systems’ OneBridge product and how that will be integrated within the iAnywhere environment and, specifically, with the iAnywhere Afaria product.
A recap may be useful: Afaria is the iAnywhere management product. That is, it provides device, data, content, connection, security, systems management (extensions), software and inventory management for mobile environments. OneBridge, on the other hand, specialises in mobile email (with support for Lotus Notes, Microsoft Exchange and Novell GroupWise) and in supporting the deployment of other enterprise applications to mobile devices. OneBridge also has some overlapping capabilities with Afaria, notably in the areas of mobile device management and security.
The roadmap that Sybase has laid out is that, initially, the two products will continue to be developed independently. First of all, that means that the planned releases from iAnywhere and Extended Systems for their respective products will go ahead as scheduled. Following that, a further release of both offerings will be introduced with, at this point, some limited integration between them. It will only be in the third release that a single, integrated product will be introduced and there will be further integration features in the fourth stage, which suggests that some users might not migrate to the new product until that stage, though at this point that is speculation.
As one might expect, Sybase will be using the best of both products but in general terms it means using the OneBridge product for enterprise email and Afaria’s capabilities for pretty much everything else though, no doubt, there will be individual features within OneBridge, in particular, that will find its way into the new product. Sybase has also stated, however, that it will continue to support its existing email customers who use, and want to continue to do so, Pylon Anywhere.
This roadmap reminds me of Business Objects' acquisition and integration of Crystal Reports. Of course, that was a bigger project (not least because the Business Objects’ products were migrated to the Crystal platform) but the approach adopted by the two companies is very similar. As I regard the integration of Business Objects and Crystal as a model of how such integrations should be achieved, this should bode well for the users of Afaria and OneBridge respectively.
As far as the result of this synthesis is concerned, the resulting application will offer wireless email, device management, mobile security and data synchronisation. According to the company this will result in iAnywhere becoming “the dominant player in the mobile enterprise space”. My first reaction when I read this was to question it. After all, an integrated product is some way off. On the other hand, Sybase is already the leader in this market and it is, arguably, not far away from dominance anyway. So I concede: for once the marketing is probably accurate.
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