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Sybase Mobilizes Enterprise Cloud Computing

The wheel of fortune is spinning in the right direction for Sybase these days, making CEO John Chen's decision to move the company into the mobile platform business seem positively prescient as enterprises move towards adoption of mobility and cloud computing.

Sybase's results also demonstrate the growing importance of cloud-based enterprise applications among the world's largest companies, putting yet another nail in the coffin of the old canard that traditional enterprise customers will eschew putting their data in the cloud or, heaven forbid, in the cloud on an iPhone. That said, Sybase's mobile platform may provide a cloud-based lifeline for the likes of SAP, Microsoft and Oracle, providing those legacy enterprise application vendors an entry into the mobile computing world of the future.

Among the huge wins Chen announced during this morning's earnings call â€" during which he said, not without some pride, that "there is a natural fit between mobilization and cloud computing:"

  • French oil and gas behemoth Total is deploying cloud-based Mobile Office across 1,000 iPhones;
  • Research in Motion will use Sybase to bring SAP applications to corporate BlackBerry customers;
  • Sybase and RIM have also created a program to jointly market business applications to the small- and medium-sized business segment;
  • Handset maker Samsung will use Sybase middleware as the basis of an enterprise application portal for its Black Jack smartphone; and
  • Thirty-six enterprise customers are live with Sybase mobile commerce applications, including Proctor & Gamble's coupon and loyalty program, Citibank and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
After the call, Raj Nathan, Sybase's senior vice president and chief marketing officer, told me that SAP won't be the only large enterprise software it will port over to the BlackBerry. "We have some other [deals] in the pipeline that we'll talk about in the next few quarters."

He also confirmed that "we are seeing an increased adoption of iPhone in the enterprise," which is not a complete surprise but another data point showing Apple's increasing bite in the enterprise smartphone market.

We're a long way from 1998, when Chen first took over Sybase, when he argued that mobility was the key to the company's salvation

everybody laughed as, at the time, the market was only a few hundred million dollars. Despite the skeptics, he felt he was on to something and plunged forward.
Indeed, the company reported revenues of $278 million for the second quarter of 2009, and increased guidance for the full year to between $1.11 billion and $1.12 billion (from prior expectations of approximately $1.10 billion). Nathan noted that the company's mobile businesses have grown from $60 million seven years ago to approximately $400 million today, representing not just an almost-seven-fold increase, but more than a third of the company's total revenues.

[Image source: Wikimedia commons]

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