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Anybody using advantage database by sybase? ADS?

We have 300 businesses nationwide running our VB 6 application with a MS ACCESS 2000 backend today. Users now want to run this application on 10-50 systems and we are looking for a client/server replacement for access that we can distribute extremely easily, manage easily and deploy easily.

We are looking at ADS (advantage database) by Sybase. Is anybody using this? How do you like it.

SQL Server Express is far too large for downloads and has far too complicated of a setup. Its a nightmare to deploy and we don't trust microsoft to keep it supported. We figure they may eventually drop it like they dropped MSDE and we can't get stuck like this.

I am looking for some inside information on this Sybase Advantage database. I have tried  firebird, postgresql, mysql, sql express and fox pro and Advantage seems to have the greatest management tools and ease of deployment so far to me.

Anybody running it?
Matt Send private email
Sunday, October 26, 2008
You might like to also have a look at SQL Compact Edition.
glen harvy Send private email
Sunday, October 26, 2008
SQL Compact is not a client/server database
Sunday, October 26, 2008
i haven't used ADS, but i have used Sybase SQL Anywhere

Deployment of SQL Anywhere is pretty simple, the installation isn't as complex as SQL Server Express
SQL Server Express installation, just got a lot more complicated with the release of version 2008. I am not sure why they make it so difficult to install

For my personal projects I have used FirebirdSQL which has a really small footprint in comparison to SQL Anywhere
I am quite happy with the featureset, a few more built in functions would be nice (that is on the roadmap already)

IBExpert is a nice firebird management tool (not really suitable for bundling, more for development)

There is also flamerobbin (free, but i found that harder to use)

Maybe another one to look at is VistaDB, haven't used it personally, so i can't vouch for it
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Several things:

- SQL Express from Microsoft is the next version of SQL Server.  MS didn't "drop support for MSDE," they released a new version of their free version of Microsoft SQL Server.  The free version of SQL Server 2000 was called Microsoft Data Engine (MSDE); the free version of SQL Server 2005 is called SQL Server 2005 Express Edition.  So don't worry that Microsoft will drop support for SQL Express - they will simply continue to upgrade it as they release new versions of SQL Server.

I used to be one of eight worldwide "Advantage A-Team Members," knowledgeable Advantage users (not employees of the company) who would help out on their forums.  Kind of a minor-league Microsoft MVP.  So I know a lot about the history of Advantage.  I've been using it since it was called the Advantage X-Base Server.

Advantage is an excellent embedded client/server database tool with a relatively small footprint and a modest pricing structure.  It offers a subset of SQL-92 syntax - virtually 100% of the functionality you will need on a day-to-day basis.  It is extremely fast.  It is very stable.  It takes only about 10MB RAM to run.  When Extended Systems sold to Sybase they increased their corporate stability a great deal, taking a good company and making it better.

Advantage grew out of dBase/Clipper so it uses discreet .ADT/ADI/ADM files for database, index and memos.  Advantage 9 may update this - I haven't programmed for it or used it since v8.  They do have support for data dictionaries and using data dictionaries you have very good support for multi-table SQL queries.

I've also done a lot of work in both MSDE and SQL Server 2005 Express.

All that being said, if you are using Access tables with your VB6 app and you intend to stay in the VB6 world, I would suggest SQL Server 2005 Express (let's call it SSEx) over Advantage.  The transition from Access to SSEx will be far simpler, for one thing.  Upgrading from SSEx to whatever SQL Server 2xxx Express comes out in the coming years is almost guaranteed to be painless (moving from MSDE to SSEx was almost painfree).

Don't make the mistake of ignoring an easy upgrade path because Microsoft "dropped MSDE."  Again, they didn't.  They upgraded to a newer version.  Think of it this way: Sybase no longer supports the Advantage XBase Server or ADS versions 4, 5, 6 or 7.  They only support v8 and v9 now.

You should be far more concerned that you are working in a development language that has not had a rev in over eight years and will never have one again.
Karl Perry Send private email
Monday, October 27, 2008
I need to comment about a couple of other things in your post as well.

I worked until recently for a company that deployed MSDE and then SSEx for their demos.  I now work for a company that deploys SSEx for its device management database.  I can tell you 100% that your assertion that deploying SSEx is "a nightmare" is nonsense.  We have deployed thousands of SSEx databases seamlessly.  The only issue is that you must have administrative rights to install it.  That does not change with Advantage.  So please, get over "SSEx is a nightmare to deploy."  It is only a nightmare because you don't know what you are doing.  Once you learn how to use it it will be easy.

Once you deploy SSEx you can pretty much forget about it.  There are no ongoing maintenance tasks.

As far as download size, it's about 50MB.  That is only a few minutes for a run-of-the-mill DSL connection.  Quit worrying about download size issues.  They are a thing of the past.  By the time you get finished downloading Advantage's toolbox that gives you the capabilities that SSEx gives you, you'll be at about the same size.

Finally, SSEx is free for your customers and works for up to 10 users.  If you are in a price-sensitive market this can be a big deal.  Advantage retails for something like $795 for five users, $1,500 for 10.  SSEx is free for this size.  You start buying the "real" SQL Server at above 10 users, and I think the pricing for Advantage and SQL Server is similar.  The big thing is that you will never have questions about your question from a 50-user shop if you use SQL Server, but you will encounter significant resistance if you don't - unless you use Oracle.  Big shops like industry-standard products because they already have shops trained to use them.  They don't like having to train someone in something new.

Things to think about.  Don't make the mistake of rejecting SQL Server/SSEx for the ignorant reasons you outlined in your original post.

Sorry to sound harsh, but I was in the position you are in today five years ago and I've learned that your prejudices about MSDE/SSEx are wrong.
Karl Perry Send private email
Monday, October 27, 2008
I am currently software architect for a software company that deployes solutions to 900 businesses nationwide. We are a major microsoft ISV and I know what I need and what I don't in a database for quick and easy deployment.

In my professional experience, sql express falls short in many ways and I am leaning toward Sybase Advantage to cover these gaps....

This is an example of some of these issues.

1) sql express  is about 150 meg download (not 50 like you say) if you want full text indexing (which advantage has in their 10 meg install) Our download size is 200 meg with sql express and about 35 meg with Sybase advantage. I don't care if you don't care about download size..we do..the faster the better for our customers!  I have heard that this size is increasing even more drastically in 2008 but have not researched this. If this is true then they will eventually drop support for 2005 and 2008 will be even harder to deploy...hopefully that isn't true.

2) sql express is not setup for network use by default, sybase advantage is.

3) sql express does not support hot backup (cannot backup if users are in the system). Sybase advantage can do this and i believe firebird,  postgresql can as well and this is a huge issue.  We want to be able to schedule and run backups for our users say once a night. You cannot do this with sql express.

4) systems like advantage ship with a full admin UI tool on the client that tech support can use to look inside the db should they need to do so, sql server exprss does not.  Sql server express installs do not ship with the management studio UI which does not allow tech support to look into the db should they ever need to do so.

5) Express requires a good deal of administration. Items like error log growth for example are major issues. SQL server is  commonly managed with sql agent because sql server requires administration to stay tuned and these admin tasks are normally scheduled...but guess what... sql agent is not available as part of sql server express.

6) not only does sql express not have hot backup, correct me if i am wrong but it has no backup tool period. I think you may have to code a t-sql proc to backup the db or something.  I haven't looked at it for a few months and can't remember the specifics..i just remember that this seemed like a pain.

In addition, in my experience, the information above stating that it is easier to move an MS Access DB to sql express is not my experience.

If you want to import an MS access database into sql express, microsoft offers a new access import tool that you can download form their site and run. It works well once you download and install it.

However, this tool is already embedded in sybase advantage. There are no extra downloads, just goto tools->import and point to the access database.

I imported our entire Access DB in 60 seconds with no issues at all (100+ tables).

And on top of all of this it will run on windows or linux.

So these are all reasons we have looked outside of sql express. Its okay but for ISV's that want quick downloads, fast installs, 0 management, small footprints, hot backups and even a full UI admin tool on each seems like Sybase Advantage kills sql express..

Just my 2 cents....

Monday, October 27, 2008
"It is only a nightmare because you don't know what you are doing.  Once you learn how to use it it will be easy."

Isn't that the whole point?  Lots of things are "easy" once "you learn how" (i.e., playing the violin) -- it's the learning how that is hard, and is what the OP wants to avoid.

That's a legitimate issue, esp. for smaller cos. that dont want to have to be experts on things that are not part of their core competency.
Monday, October 27, 2008
"We figure they may eventually drop it like they dropped MSDE and we can't get stuck like this."

Umm, SQL Express is just the next version of MSDE with some of the limitations taken out. It's essentially the same product (cut down version of full SQL Server) with a different name.

I'm confused?
Chris Tavares Send private email
Monday, October 27, 2008
I've used both SSEx and Sybase SQL Anywhere; Sybase does have some nice deployment tools, but some of that numbered list about deficiencies in SSEx is flat out wrong.

2) It's one command-line switch on your install to enable network access to the DB - MS got grief for having MSDE wide open.
3) I've never had a problem backing up the DB while a user is in the system.
4) SQL Management Studio Express - it's right there; it might not be included in the same install package, but to say it's not available is BS.
6) See Point 4

I'll grant you the deployment stuff - The SQL Anywhere tool to generate an MSI is nice.  However, their actual tools are garbage in comparison to SSE, and one other thing - Express is free.
Lurker Indeed
Monday, October 27, 2008
'Isn't that the whole point?  Lots of things are "easy" once "you learn how" (i.e., playing the violin) -- it's the learning how that is hard, and is what the OP wants to avoid. '

BillAtHrst: Interesting you would compare with playing the violin.  I've played violin for 38 years and I'm very good at it - and it's still extremely hard, a lot harder than mastering either Advantage or SQL Server.

I learned the basics of Advantage in a few hours - enough to deploy it.  I learned the basics of SQL Server in a few hours - enough to deploy it.

I'm not sure if it was the OP who tried to refute the points I made and didn't sign a name, but if so I have to ask: do you have 300 clients (as you say in your OP) or 900 as you say later?  That's a big difference and to say one first and another later hurts your credibility.

As everyone here has said, SQL Server is not the monster you're making it.  It's just not.  Advantage is easy, yes.  Advantage is smaller than SQL Server, yes.  But ... no one anymore who is serious about running a business is going to refuse to download a database because it's 200MB - or 400MB - vs 35MB.  They just don't.  Why?  Because they're looking to solve a business problem, and the size of the download required to solve it is not relevant.  If it solves the business problem better than anyone else's it could be a 2GB download and they wouldn't care.  If they do, you don't want them as a client.

So get off download size.  It's a problem of the past.

As for hot backups, I'm glad to hear they finally got them in Advantage - I think it was v8.  I pushed for hot backup in their training seminars for years to get them to do that because it was a serious defect in their product and SQL Server had it.  As others said, yes - both MSDE and SSEx allow hot backups.

I am NOT saying that Advantage is the wrong choice.  I used it for a long time and had circumstances in my life been different I might still be using it.  I just moved on to another position where SQL Server was used, and I found it wasn't the demon I originally thought it was.  I got over my SQL Server phobia.  You need to get over it too so you can give both products a legitimate workout not based on prejudice but based on facts.  Then you can make a real decision.  Right now you're working off a voodoo doll mentality - and that is not good for you and it is not good for your 300 (or 900, whichever it is) clients.
Karl Perry Send private email
Monday, October 27, 2008
Karl, that comment was so stupid.
Calculate for yourself how many
hours a 400 meg download takes on
an AVERAGE internet connection,
and try to figure out how that
fits into a standard sales process.

Here's a clue: about 5-10 hours.
Object Hater
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
I said above, that we have 300 on a VB6 application.
We have roughly 900 in total with the other 600 on a fox pro application.

If anyone is interested this is the breakdown thus far on items important to us.

                  sybase advantage    sql express 05
pricing                not free          free
download size          ~10 meg          ~150 meg
backup                built in        not built in
network enabled        by default      command line
administration      practically 0      some tuning
sql support            yes                yes
sprocs                yes                yes
triggers              yes                yes
db size            unlimited          ~4 gig
processors          unlimited          1 processor
RAM                unlimited          1 Gig
import from Access  built in        not built in
import from fox pro built in        not built in
xcopy deploy db    at all times  for single user only
scalability        1 to 1000 users  ehhhhh
good support        don't know            don't know
oledb and .net data provider yes          yes
.net support        yes                yes
ui admin tool      fantastic            fantastic

Now another major consideration on our end is what happens if someone blows away the 4 gig db limit on sql express or what happens if they want 50 systems..whats the cost to upgrade to sql server versus our cost to use advantage.

Heres the pricing i have for advantage

Advantage DB pricing
10 user 1240.00
20 user 2450.00
25 user 2725.00
50 user 3699.00

partners get an additional 25% off this price and if you attend a seminar to get certified you get 30% off.

SQL Server pricing

I am trying to figure out. It is extremely complex compared to the simple advantage pricing above.

You have these options

Per Seat Licensing
Per Server Licensing
Per Processor Licensing

There are far too many details here heres a link
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
So, the smart option is to continue using existing MSDE and be happy, and take advantage of the abstraction layer in the code to allow use of SQL Server ("real" or express) and remember that there's a non-zero chance that the customers who need a client/server database already have one, and thus need to download zero bytes of database engine, which is remarkably fast even on the slowest of networks.

Of course, the "lack of trust" for Microsoft from a company that's apparantly quite stuck on VB6 and is entirely ignorant as to the relationship between MSDE and SQL Server is good for a laugh.

Also, take a look here:

Install Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Express Edition
Download * (36.5 MB)

Oh my god. 36.5 MB?!?!  How can anyone expect me to download the largest software package the human race has ever created?

Ah. Now I see why people are freaking out.

Install Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Express Edition with Advanced Services
Download (234 MB)

It's good to see that people are carefulyl evaluating all the available options not not making snap decisions based on hatred.

"Advanced" services, apparantly, means a graphical management tool, an integrated report creation and design environment, and full-text search. So, yes, clearly these are core components of MSDE that have been shuffled into an unreasonably huge download and surely everything except the evil SQL Server Express comes with them as standard in a tiny download.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008
I just tested the download speed on my average (i.e. cheap) internet connection: a 700 MB file (part of a virtual machine image provided by MS) was downloaded in roughly 30 minutes.

Arguing about download size wastes more time than the actual download.
El Dorko
Thursday, October 30, 2008
El Dorko,

Where the hell are you located, and what provider do
you "get cheap"?

I have 24 megabits with 20:1 contention, and
that's ghetto compared to a standard connection
in Japan.

But you won't get that in Hicksville USA, and you
should be assuming your customers are at the 95% limit
(which is in fact Podunk, Brazil. A "cheap" connection
there is worse than 56K dialup).

But what do I know? I just base my thinking on fact and
logic, unlike you who base yours on "it works for me!"
Object Hater
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Yes, object hater, the "fact" that SQL Server Express is less than 40MB has clearly factored into your "thinking" about the download time for a file somewhat more than ten times larger.

But thanks for playing.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Well Mister Blank, I was clearly not making that claim,
I was responding to Karl Perry's

"But ... no one anymore who is serious about running
 a business is going to refuse to download a database
 because  it's 200MB - or 400MB - vs 35MB."

Do you see where he wrote 400MB?
Or do you need to text search through this web page?

Object Hater
Friday, November 07, 2008

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