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Data Management Anytime, Anywhere

Data Management Anytime, Anywhere

In 1977 Bruce Scott, now president and CEO of PointBase, cofounded Oracle, where he was coauthor and coarchitect of Oracle 1, 2, and 3. Many in the industry still think of him as "Scott/Tiger" - the original user name and password for the Oracle database, which still appears throughout Oracle documentation. In 1984 Bruce cofounded Gupta Technology (renamed Centura Software), where he provided database technology leadership for over 10 years. Most recently, Bruce was a founder and principal at inquiry.com.

WBT: Tell us about the vision you had when you founded PointBase. What was it you hoped to do?

BS: I wanted to allow corporate data to be moved out into the hands of the people that really need it. The end user. I saw a changing world in which people would use other computers besides PCs. These computers would come in a variety of shapes and forms with different chip sets and operating systems. People would carry information around with them and this information would need to be synchronized with other information on business servers. There was a clear need for a new breed of data management that would work anywhere and anytime.

WBT: What's PointBase doing today?

BS: We're basically following the vision described above. Today PointBase creates the platform-independent technology that enables applications to manage, synchronize, and extend data across networks of servers, desktops, laptops, and mobile/ wireless devices. Customers use our technology for platform-independent data management and synchronization across global networks, for embedded data management and synchronization within Java applications, and for the management and synchronization of data within applications deployed on mobile/wireless devices.

WBT: How close to that vision are you?

BS: We're following the vision closely by providing data management and synchronization products today that are enabling application developers to develop and deliver applications that will cover a wide spectrum of applications in the new environments of tomorrow. We have distilled the data management technology learned over the years from companies like Oracle and Sybase down to its bare essentials to meet the simpler and less complex needs of these new applications.

WBT: What is the current smallest amount of memory you require on a device?

BS: Currently our full product requires one megabyte of memory. We have some things in the works that will allow developers to decrease this size substantially, based on the features required by their application.

WBT: How has your background with Oracle and Gupta Technologies prepared you for the current challenges?

BS: At Oracle I was responsible for developing most of the first three revisions of the Oracle database. At that time we were taking databases down from huge mainframes and hosting them on small computers (called minicomputers then). At Gupta I carried on the story. There we were taking minicomputer or server-hosted databases and moving them down onto PCs and PC servers. Here at PointBase we're going further to moving powerful database software that runs on small, truly personal systems and devices all the way up to corporate servers.

WBT: Are you still involved with the development of the software on a day-to-day basis?

BS: No. I do participate in various engineering strategy meetings, and occasionally have the chance to discuss database architectural issues with the team.

WBT: Where is PointBase going in the future?

BS: We're at the very beginning of the post-PC era. In a few years billions of these smart devices will be blanketing the world. With the proliferation of these devices the data management and synchronization needs will evolve and change. PointBase will be in the forefront of enabling applications by providing simple and effective data management and synchronization. We'll continue to evolve our vision in three market sectors: (1) the management and synchronization of data within multitiered global networks, (2) data management and synchronization for packaged software applications, and (3) data management for mobile/wireless applications. Aiming at these three market opportunities we expect to see our technology deployed within applications across a very broad range of platforms on a global scale.

WBT: What sort of enhancements will we see in the next release of the mobile edition/network server?

BS: We're doing a number of things to allow developers to create very small footprint databases based on our modular architecture. We'll be launching some capabilities in this area in the next release. We also have some enhancements that allow us to easily localize our products for international distribution.

WBT: How do you see Java fitting into that?

BS: Java is the language of the Internet, and as such is also the language of platform diversity and independence. By establishing a pure Java foundation across our entire product line we immediately inherit the platform independence of Java that will become exceedingly important as a broad array of smart devices, appliances,
wireless handhelds, and powerful cell phone platforms enter the market. Further, Java "future-proofs" the applications our customers build using our technology. Should they need to change platforms or operating environments at some time in the future, as long as a JVM is available their application will run without recompiling the code.

WBT: How do you see PointBase fitting in, in the wireless explosion?

BS: Along with the wireless explosion will come a personal data explosion. Mobile/wireless devices today are coming to market with 64MB of RAM memory and up to a gigabyte of disk storage in devices the size of a camcorder. As platforms of this kind evolve over the next few years, we can expect to see corporations wanting to extend large amounts of personal data (business data that individuals need to do their job) out to these devices. They'll never be connected
(wireless or otherwise) all the time and this means users will need to manage their data, under application control, right on their own devices. PointBase allows this to happen because we enable developers to build powerful data management and synchronization applications that link across networks to mainframe databases and use corporate data management standards such as SQL.

WBT: Can you give us some examples of how actual clients are using your product?

BS: Extensity uses our product as the data management platform beneath their mobile expense tracking and reimbursement application. E&Y uses PointBase as the data archive within a mobile document-management system for their auditors. Provista uses PointBase to manage data call statistics and charging algorithms for data passing through Cisco routers. Typically, our technology is used in one of three ways: (1) to enable customers to extend data out over multitiered networks; (2) to provide data management and synchronization for integrated software applications typically sold by VARs, ISVs, and OEMs; and (3) to provide data management and synchronization for smart devices.

WBT: What new wireless technologies and innovations are you and/or PointBase hoping to see in the future?

BS: I'm expecting that all major corporations and ISVs will develop their own wireless strategies. They'll see the need to deliver applications that can be used while mostly disconnected and occasionally using the wireless infrastructure to synchronize their activities. This will be aided by the ever-increasing power and capability of smart devices.

WBT: What wireless devices do you yourself use on a regular basis?

BS: A Palm V and a cell phone.

WBT: What do you use them for?

BS: Calendaring, contacts management, scheduling, and communication.

More Stories By Robert Diamond

Robert Diamond is the founder and editor-in-chief of BroadwayWorld.com, the premiere theater site on the net now receiving over 100,000 unique visitors a day. He is also the owner of Wisdom Digital Media - a leading designer of entertainment and technology web sites. He is also the lead producer on BroadwayWorld.com's consistently sold-out Joe's Pub concert series, and Standing Ovations benefit concerts. Diamond was also named one of the "Top thirty magazine industry executives under the age of 30" by Folio magazine. Robert holds a BS degree in information management and technology from the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University. Visit his blog at www.robertdiamond.com.

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Most Recent Comments
Noel Elbourne 12/15/02 05:35:00 PM EST

Can I who lives in Trinidad W.I. receive wireless data via satellite. On mobile/wireless devices