Sybase may offer open-source database in China

Sybase Inc. is considering how it could make some parts of its database software available under an open-source license to customers and developers in China, a company executive said Wednesday.

“We could open some source code,” said Raymond Yu, president of Sybase’s operations in China. “This is something that is definitely on the agenda.”

Yu said that any move to release Sybase’s database software under an open-source license for China would first require the approval of the U.S. government because of export controls.

Sybase’s plans in this area are only in the early stages of discussion. No decision had been made regarding what products or software might be released as open source in China, according to Yu. “We are trying everything now to see what the reaction from the U.S. government will be to us doing this,” he said.

China is an important market for Sybase. The country is the single-largest source of new customers for Sybase and the company expects to see its revenue there double by 2008, Yu said. Traditionally, telecommunications has been the strongest market for Sybase in China, but the company is making a push into other industries, such as finance, where companies are investing heavily in IT systems to improve their efficiency and productivity, he said.

“We believe there is huge potential in China,” Yu said.

In the past, Chinese companies and government customers wanted localized software, but increasingly Chinese users want autonomy when it comes to intellectual property, Yu said. By making Sybase’s database software available as open source, the company will be able to meet this demand and can also assure government users that the software is free from security vulnerabilities, such as “back doors,” he said.

Sybase has already made some of its software available to developers as open source, such as ebXML (Electronic Business using Extensible Markup Language), a messaging technology that is used to exchange business data. In addition, Sybase has developed versions of its database and application software for customers running Linux.

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