After a rocky 1995, Sybase's new year hasn't turned out to be much fun.
The Emeryville, California-based database vendor is warning that it will disappoint Wall Street by reporting losses in the first quarter. The company has also announced a reshuffling of its top management.
Although the bad news won't spoil Sybase's long-term prospects, analysts say that the company faces daunting challenges in maintaining its position as the second largest database vendor in a fiercely competitive market.
"They have to improve their database, come up with a valuable, differentiated middleware strategy, solidify PowerBuilder 5 against the Visual Basic juggernaut and come up with an integrated object generation strategy [with their development tools] in a competitive time frame," says Curt Monash, editor of The Monash Report newsletter, in New York.
Observers also noted that Sybase is losing ground in the race to produce the next generation of database servers that support multiple data types. The company expended valuable energy and resources last year bringing its core SQL Server 11 relational database up to par with competing products.
Sybase's executive reorganization eliminates the post of chief operating officer, held by David Peterschmidt, and gives the chairman and CEO, Mark Hoffman, tighter control over two new operational units: one focused on high-end products and services that include databases and middleware, and the other focused on departmental-level products, including tools and low-end databases.
Unix database server market leaders
Company 1995 market share 1994 market share
Oracle Corp. 46 percent 42 percent
Sybase Inc. 20 percent 25 percent
Informix Software Inc. 18.5 percent 17 percent