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Update on the IBM DB2 “SQL Skin” for Migrating from Sybase ASE

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Last year, I wrote about how IBM DB2 adds “SQL Skin for Sybase ASE” to Ease Database Migrations. I have been lucky enough to hear from some of the luminaries involved in the SQL Skin, so I thought I would take a few moments to follow up on that blog post.

Don Haderle is known to many as the “father of DB2”. After being Chief Architect for DB2, we went on to achieve the status of IBM Fellow as well as CTO of IBM Information Management. In 2005, Don retired from IBM. He now acts as advisor to several companies, including ANTs Software who partner with IBM to offer the SQL Skin. When asked to recap what the DB2 SQL Skin is, Don describes it as “a building-block technology that seamlessly integrates enterprise applications with the overwhelming amount of data living in legacy data silos. It lets the CIO standardize on the DB2 platform, employ a top notch team of DB2 experts, and eliminate the need to pay for niche expertise or expensive database upgrades.” He goes on to say that “it is revolutionary to be able to consolidate vast amounts of data onto fewer and larger database servers. IBM DB2 SQL Skin for Sybase ASE makes it possible for the forward thinking CIO to coordinate all existing data and offer an overview of business drivers that helps the organization focus on innovating and competing in the marketplace.”

In the past, Sybase had a lot of traction with financial services companies. But now a lot of those companies are re-evaluating their options for their Sybase deployments. Warren Lucas was a much-respected Sales Executive at IBM for 32 years, covering the territory that included Wall Street. He is now also a trusted advisor to ANTs Software. When asked about how the SQL Skin is doing in the marketplace, Warren says that “Wall Street has embraced Sybase ASE in many legacy applications” and goes on to point out that traditionally “many organizations have been afraid of standardizing on an innovative DBMS, like DB2, due to the cost of migration.” Of course, he doesn’t need to add that DB2’s SQL Skin for Sybase ASE helps both lower the cost of migration and reduce the risk associated with migration. When asked if he can tell us about any real world experience with this feature, Warren says that “a large financial services company is already using DB2 SQL Skin for Sybase ASE to consolidate resources, eliminating long migration cycles and months of application rewrites to create a private cloud built on DB2. With this enabling technology, the financial firm will be enable to consolidate their data silos and provide a 360 degree view of their enterprise data store.”

Joe Kozak—the CEO of ANTs Software—adds that “one of SQL Skin’s beta customers, BJC Healthcare, is using the product to migrate two proprietary applications running Sybase over to DB2. Within weeks, and with virtually no changes, BJC will be able to streamline their organization, lower their database license and maintenance costs, and eliminate the need for any Sybase DBA support.”

Thanks Don, Warren, and Joe for the quick update. Its great to hear the good news. You can keep up-to-date on developments with the SQL Skin on Joe Kozak’s Blog.


Written by Conor O'Mahony

February 14, 2011 at 9:57 am

Posted in DB2 for LUW, Sybase ASE

IBM DB2 adds “SQL Skin for Sybase ASE” to Ease Database Migrations

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IBM is continuing to play the role of liberator, allowing users who thought they were locked-in to another DBMS vendor to switch to DB2. Last year, IBM added support to DB2 for syntax and features that make it easy for users to switch from Oracle Database to DB2 (See PL/SQL Support in DB2 for more information). Today, IBM is announcing a new product feature that makes it easy for users to switch from Sybase ASE to DB2.

So, you don’t need to feel locked into Sybase ASE any more… you can now easily switch to IBM DB2.

The first thing I should point out is that the features that make it easy to move from Oracle Database are different from the features that make it easy to move from Sybase ASE. For Oracle Database, we built native support for the syntax and features that make it easy to move deep into the DB2 engine. Whereas, with Sybase ASE, we are using an emulation layer. I’ve got to admit that my first reaction to this approach was skepticism. I wasn’t sure how using an emulation layer would affect performance. However, the performance numbers that I have seen from clients are quite impressive. At one insurance company, they saw that DB2 outperformed Sybase ASE in all tests. The speed up ranged from taking half as much time at the low end to taking a small fraction of the time. It was quite startling. Although I must say that their move from Sun Servers to IBM Power Systems at the same time probably also had an impact on performance.

This new “SQL Skin for Sybase ASE” feature is based on technology developed by ANTs, who have a lot of expertise in off-Sybase migrations. This is the third generation of their technology. IBM is OEMing it, and selling it as an optional feature for DB2. And naturally, as it is an IBM product, IBM is offering support for the product.

So how does this work? Well, on the database client machines, IBM replaces the Sybase ASE client with a compatibility services client. And, on the database server, a compatibility services module runs in DB2. The new client hides the fact that the database, triggers, and stored procedures are now running on DB2 instead of Sybase ASE. Our experience thus far is that, for the most part, the application code remains unchanged. I am not saying there will be no changes needed. But, I can say that—from what I have seen of the Beta testing—such changes are relatively minor in scope. In the press release mentioned above, you can see that Tom Holdener of BJC HealthCare said that they migrated with “virtually no changes” and Jim Ofalt of The Pep Boys enjoyed “a seamless move to DB2 requiring no changes to the application.”

Sybase ASE uses T-SQL. For T-SQL that is immediately recognizable by DB2, the compatibility services will simply pass it through. For T-SQL that is not immediately recognizable by DB2, the compatibility services will “convert” it into an equivalent call that DB2 can run. Then it will call DB2, get the output, and send it back to the application in the format that the application expects.

For more information about this feature, see DB2 SQL Skin feature for applications compatible with Sybase ASE.

Written by Conor O'Mahony

May 20, 2010 at 10:18 am

Posted in DB2 for LUW, Sybase ASE

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