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Sybase kicks Replication Server up a notch

The new version of Sybase Replication Server aims to greatly reduce the time it takes to move huge volumes of data between enterprise information stores.

The new version of Sybase Replication Server aims to significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to move huge volumes of data between enterprise information stores.

Unveiled this week at Sybase’s annual TechWave conference, Replication Server 15.5 incorporates new technologies – such as High Volume Adaptive Replication (HVAR) and near-real-time data loading – that are designed to give the system a major speed and efficiency boost over previous versions.

The news piqued the interest of Dave McCune, a database administrator and Replication Server user with Pratt Industries Inc., a recycled paper and packaging material manufacturer with many manufacturing plants and offices throughout the United States.

About three years ago, Pratt Industries went live with Sybase’s flagship database management system (DBMS), Adaptive Server Enterprise (ASE), at its nine manufacturing plants. Each instance of ASE records and monitors the performance of its respective plant, and that data is then replicated – via Replication Server – to a single ASE database located in Wichita, Kansas. The idea, McCune said, is to provide all of the company’s manufacturing plants and offices with a centralized database that can be accessed for enterprise-wide reporting and analysis.

McCune, who works in Wichita, plans to upgrade to Replication Server 15.5 later this month. Once that job is complete, he’ll fly to Melbourne, Australia, to do the same thing at Pratt’s sister company, Visy Recycling Pty. Ltd. McCune said Visy is currently running Replication Server 12 and, as a result, data from Australia cannot be replicated back to the decision support database in the United States.

“I think 15.5 is going to relieve the pressure in Australia because their current version can’t handle the number of connections they have,” McCune said. “[Sybase Replication Server 15.5] really opens up the number of connections, and throughput through the box [will increase] dramatically. That is the real goal, plus they want to go to 64-bit to utilize more memory.”

Sizing up the Replication Server competition
One of the defining traits of Sybase Replication Server is its focus on heterogeneous environments, according to Noel Yuhanna, a database analyst with Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research Inc. Sybase Replication Server works with multiple DBMS software offerings, including those provided by Oracle, IBM and Microsoft.

Yuhanna said Sybase’s chief competition on the replication front has historically been those same large vendors – Oracle, IBM and Microsoft – which provide their own proprietary replication software. Sybase also competes with smaller vendors – like GoldenGate Software Inc., which was acquired by Oracle last year – which also take the heterogeneous approach. Yuhanna said Oracle’s purchase of GoldenGate is a sure sign that more large vendors are opening up to the heterogeneous approach.

“[Sybase Replication Server’s] biggest competitors have always been the native replication solutions from database vendors,” he said. “But … recently, we are seeing the database vendors going and expanding their replication solutions, like Oracle buying GoldenGate.”

Forrester views Sybase’s ASE and Replication Server as solid products and reports that users of the technology tend to be satisfied customers. Yuhanna said, however, that Sybase – which was acquired by German business applications giant SAP AG earlier this year – could do a better job of getting the word out.

“[Sybase technology] is just not well known in the non-Sybase environments such as Oracle,” he said. “It’s just that it hasn’t been pushed out into the non-Sybase [realm] as aggressively to compete against some of the other competitors.”

New features of Sybase Replication Server 15.5
Pratt Industries’ McCune said one of the new features of Sybase Replication Server 15.5 that interests him is its ability to load the Sybase IQ business analytics engine in near real time. Sybase calls the feature “Real Time Loading for Sybase IQ.”

McCune says his company currently runs multiple Oracle databases in addition to Sybase ASE, as well as several business applications from various vendors. He said the ability to load and analyze data from these disparate systems in near real time could eventually be a major benefit to Pratt’s operations.

“We don’t use IQ, but I am extremely interested in that technology, and I think it would benefit us here,” McCune said. “I believe that IQ is just a superfast [system].”

David Jonker, Sybase’s group product marketing manager for data management and replication offerings, said the technology works by bulk loading data into the Sybase IQ engine.

“A lot of the other replication technologies are still row by row. They read the transaction log and push the changes down into the destination database on a row-by-row basis,” Jonker said. “In version 15.5, we’re changing that up a bit. We’re effectively staging data in the replication engine and bulk loading it in.

Another key new feature of Replication Server 15.5 is Sybase’s patent-pending HVAR technology. Jonker said this increases the speed with which data can be loaded into an information store by removing all intermediate operations and sending only the final stages of a replication transaction.

“We’ve built in the capability to actually recognize the last change [to a piece of data] and just replicate that over – in some cases really reducing the volume of data that needs to be replicated,” he said.

The new version of Replication Server also offers the ability to replicate data from Sybase’s in-memory ASE database into other systems.

A preview of Sybase’s future
Meanwhile, Forrester’s Yuhanna predicts that end users can expect SAP’s business applications to be fully ported to Sybase technology within the next six months. Currently, SAP applications do not run on Sybase ASE.

“The good thing is the port or the migration should not really be difficult because [Microsoft SQL Server] and Sybase are very close in terms of the similar architecture that they have,” Yuhanna said. “So, the fact that SAP runs on SQL Server means that running on Sybase shouldn’t pose a big [problem].”

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