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Choosing a Sybase Technology for your Mobile Applications

The Sybase Mobility Platform is a comprehensive set of new and industry-proven solutions to help companies go mobile. It includes both Sybase Unwired Platform (SUP) and SQL Anywhere: two technologies for building powerful mobile applications, but which one is right for you? Here are a couple of things I find it helpful to keep in mind when making the decision.

First: which devices are you targeting with your application?

SUP is designed for the burgeoning world of smartphone applications, with support for BlackBerry, iPhone, Windows Mobile and Symbian smartphones and handheld devices.

While SQL Anywhere also supports smartphone platforms, most SQL Anywhere mobile applications are deployed on enterprise handheld computers and on laptop computers. Delivery, logistics and warehouse applications are common users of handheld computers; inspections, CRM and field service applications are often deployed to laptops.

In addition, SQL Anywhere supports “remote office” and point-of-sale systems which, while not “mobile” in a strict sense, share a common data architecture with mobile applications. The “mobile device” in this case may be a multi-user database server at a regional office, restaurant or other location – typically with limited or no IT staff.

Second: SUP and SQL Anywhere provide a different experience for developers, both on device and at the enterprise.

SUP developers can take advantage of a 4GL programming model which uses Mobile Business Objects to generate application code from an Eclipse-based workspace. Mobile Business Objects provide a level of abstraction that unifies the device, data movement, and enterprise integration aspects of mobile applications and which insulates the developer from the need for low-level programming. Developers using SQL Anywhere work directly with low-level APIs and use the SQL language for data manipulation: this approach takes more work but provides maximum control and performance.

On device, SUP Mobile Business Objects allow device-independent generation of application code, while SQL Anywhere developers work directly in the native application programming tools and native APIs for each device.

At the enterprise, SQL Anywhere is focused on working directly with relational database management systems, including Oracle, Sybase, Microsoft and IBM DB2. SUP is designed to work more closely with enterprise systems such as SAP.

In short, SQL Anywhere provides optimized components for each device and for data movement, allowing maximum control for high-performance and highly scalable applications. SUP’s higher level of abstraction lets developers produce applications more rapidly, and the SUP server is built for organizations building multiple mobile applications.

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