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Sybase touts momentum as it releases upgraded IQ database for BI

Sybase Inc released IQ 15, the latest version of its column-based database tuned for business intelligence and analytical applications, while also citing strong sales of its previous version.

Sybase won 200 customers for IQ 12 last year, bringing the total number of customers for IQ to 1,500, and the number of individual installations of IQ to 3,000, according to Dan Lahl, director of analytics at the Dublin, Calif., company.

Last year's wins include European mobile phone operator Vodafone, market researcher NPD Group, health care technology provider McKesson Corp. and several banks and insurance companies that Lahl declined to name.

Sybase announced IQ 15 — it is skipping Versions 13 and 14 because of negative connotations in Western and Asian cultures, respectively — at The Data Warehousing Institute's spring conference, taking place this week in Las Vegas.

The latest version of IQ includes technical improvements such as a “beefed up grid architecture” that will enable the database to scale to thousands of concurrent users, better usage of multicore CPUs for increased parallel processing and zippier performance, and an easier graphical user interface, said Joydeep Das, senior product manager at Sybase.

First released more than a decade ago, Sybase's IQ was an early entrant in the now trendy column-based data warehousing space.

Columnar, or vertical, databases store data in column-based tables, which can be slow for writing data but quick for retrieval — perfect for “write once, read many” applications such as business intelligence and analytics.

Curt Monash, an independent database analyst and blogger, ranks Sybase tops for “market momentum” among vertical database vendors, followed by two start-ups, Vertica Systems Inc. and Infobright Inc.

Vertica, which is being sued by Sybase for patent infringement, said last month it has 60 corporate customers, while Infobright said it has more than 40.

Attractive pricing may be helping IQ's sales. Licensing the stand-alone IQ software costs between $18,000 and $20,000 per terabyte of user data, according to Das. Getting it as a prebuilt data warehousing appliance costs about $27,000 per terabyte of user data, he said.

Competitor Vertica, by comparison, told Computerworld last fall that it was charging about $100,000 per terabyte of user data.

Monash confirmed that IQ sports “one of the lower prices out there.”

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