Firm gets in stealth mode for database deployment

If you’re looking for a database that’s highly scalable, easy to administrate and supports mobile users, iAnywhere Solutions Inc. says it has just the thing for you.

The company in December announced SQL Anywhere Studio 8, a database for mobile, embedded and workgroup environments.

This product speaks to developers; people who want to build a database into their own software, said Chris Kleisath, iAnywhere’s director of engineering. But corporations in certain vertical markets, like healthcare and finance, might pick it up and build functions around it, too.

Kleisath said developers and network managers expect certain things from databases – performance, security and scalability among them. But above all, they seek stealth.

“If there’s going to be a database application deployed to a mobile user or embedded within somebody else’s software application, it has to be absolutely invisible to the end user,” Kleisath said. “Whoever’s using the application shouldn’t know there’s a database behind it at all.”

Studio 8 answers the call with improved query processing, which makes quick work of complex searches. The program includes improved index type for large key indexing and bitmap table lists that afford faster table scans.

As for security, iAnywhere built strong encryption functions into the database so information rests secure no matter where it sits, be it on an end user’s mobile computer or an enterprise server.

The company also beefed up communication stream encryption, so network snoops gain no access to information during wired and wireless synchronization.

iAnywhere isn’t so bold as to suggest Studio 8 should replace the network manager’s current back-end database, so the program is designed to communicate seamlessly with products for Oracle, IBM and others.

Kleisath said his company’s offering fits any size of hard drive, from the tiny disks in personal digital assistants to the massive magnets in file servers.

Although “the vast majority of [Studio 8 databases] are going to be less than a gigabyte in size,” Kleisath said iAnywhere wanted to make sure clients with plenty more data weren’t left out. To that end, a Studio 8 database could reach 30GB and support up to 200 workgroup users.

That’s the kind of flexibility Breck Carter looks for when he goes searching for a database. Carter is an independent software developer and also an iAnywhere beta tester. He focuses on applications for handheld computers, where size matters, as does mobile support. For him, Studio 8 “is one of the best kept secrets in the database world.” So few other manufacturers consider extending databases beyond the corporate walls, he said.

Kleisath said he’s fond of Studio 8’s administration functions, which address a problem he’s encountered with IBM Corp.’s database, DB2.

When that program runs out of space, “even if you have another 5GB on your hard drive, you’ve got to get somebody to come out and bless the keyboard in order to use that space,” Carter said. “That’s a huge problem in some shops. Guessing which database is going to grow and which one isn’t is hard to do. SQL Anywhere expands the database file as it’s required.”

According to Terilyn Palanca, an analyst with Giga Information Group Inc., iAnywhere has a lock on the mobile database space. And as long as the company maintains its focus on “zero administration,” fault-resistant connections and small footprint deployments, it should likewise maintain its lead, she said.

However, “Everybody’s trying to compete in this space and eventually there will be stiff competition,” from the likes of IBM and Oracle, she said.

SQL Anywhere Studio 8 is available now, priced at US$399 for one user and US$999 for 10. For more information, see the company’s Web site at