Sybase Opens Developer Portal on SDN

To add support for its developer products, the Internet applications division (IAD) of Sybase Inc. (www.sybase.com) launched a dedicated Sybase Developer Network (SDN) last month.

"We started this thing as a research product about two years ago," says Lynn Pastor, director of IAD technical marketing. "We felt we needed a presence for all the tools out there for customers who wanted the inside scoop on our products." Pastor says Sybase recognized that the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) and the Oracle Technology Network were powerful resources for their respective companies and customers.

On the site, developers can get information about IAD as well as mobile and embedded computing. Soon Sybase will add business intelligence/data warehousing and an enterprise services division. "The whole purpose is to provide a Web-based information delivery option so Sybase can communicate with its employees, its partners and especially its customers," Pastor remarks.

SDN has taken on a life of its own at Sybase headquarters, Pastor explains. Many groups within the company are using the site as a mini-intranet -- storing files, white papers, tips, sample software, internal publications and items that might have been left under somebody's notebook on their desk.

"By providing better support and technical information, [Sybase] can lead to a broader installed base and potentially get stronger," says Dave Kelly, vice president of application strategies at the Hurwitz Group Inc. (www.hurwitz.com). "It increases the likelihood that developers are going to develop effective products."

Kelly explains that Microsoft is a juggernaut in the development community, and its MSDN is the biggest and strongest network in the industry. "They've done more than anybody to cultivate this, and they'll continue to upgrade and pour resources to maintain [its] hold over developers," Kelly says.

In addition to public information, Sybase is also putting private resources on its site that will be accessible to its employees and partners via password authentication. Pastor admits it's a drawback having to spend time adding security and worrying if it will work. She also says she's held back on posting certain items, such as working software releases, to prevent corporate espionage.

To separate the site from Sybase's main site, Pastor says she has taken steps to ensure marketing hoopla remains far removed. One of those steps was to put the site in the charge of Marlana Patton, editor of Sybase's Powerline Magazine. Next she made site advertising free. SDN also publishes third-party integration product data and links to third-party sites as long as they're technical and objective in nature.

Hurwitz's Kelly says cross selling is one of the only ways to make a direct profit from a developer network, since there's nothing being sold and no advertising being placed. He explains that a network such as SDN is a good opportunity to expand developer interaction with partner products.