Posted in IT Issues, Oracle DBMS, Personal, Solaris, SQL, Sybase

Sybase vs Oracle

I’ve seen some discussion around the internet about the age old argument about which is best Sybase or Oracle. I have been reading Mr. Talebzedah article on Sybase vs. Oracle: 10 reasons to use Sybase on Linux and I would agree with many of his statements. Having installed and used both over the years, I would pick Sybase. Why more companies don’t use Sybase more, has always been a mystery to me. Sybase is cheaper to install, and operate both in hardware resource usage, and manpower utilization. As an example, which can be repeated ad finite, one of the companies I worked at required 20 DBA’s to support a single Oracle Financials system in version 7 Oracle. And they were terrified to upgrade to Oracle 8 as Oracle does not supply a migration path. Sybase in this same company was used extensively in 7/24 environments, and only had 18 DBA’s supporting more than 800 Sybase databases, with more than 15,000 logins. In Mr Talebzedah article he mentions 2.5 Oracle DBA’s to one Sybase DBA, and since you and I know that 0.5 DBA’s don’t really exist (see mythical man month) I would put that, rounding factors aside, to 3+ Oracle DBA’s to one Sybase DBA.

Oracle supporters always mention the ‘sophistication’ and maturity of Oracle features, and in the same breath include the requirements for learning more, and of it’s complexity. This complexity extends to it’s high requirements in installation, and operating Oracle databases. Ask an Oracle DBA why they have to maintain backup configuration files three or more times to feel safe? As an example of this heavy requirement for installation, Oracle makes more money consulting on how to install it, than selling the actual RDBMS product. As another cost Oracle DBA’s are higher paid than Sybase DBA’s you do have to pay for all this sophisticated knowledge. That’s not a fault of the DBA, but is is still a business expense, and adds to the TCO.

As for the maturity and sophistication, Oracle may win here, but I am not comparing ASE 15 as I have not used this, but in almost every environment I’ve ever worked in, this sophistication is never utilized. This is not a lack of programming skills in the staff. It has to do with not being locked into any particular RDBMS feature. Many companies are completely heterogeneous with regards to Databases, probably due to corporate merger mania. And database transportability is prized much more than any particular database feature. In some cases junior programmers utilize databases more as file systems than RDBMS systems and hence, gain nothing from the mature, sophisticated features Oracle might provide.

Ultimately Oracle grants nothing in the benefits column when the costs are taken into perspective. Oracle is more expensive, fragile and harder to develop applications for. Sybase is cheaper faster, more stable, and requires less hardware and manpower to operate.


With 40 years experience in software development, systems design and engineering and IT operations, and Infrastructure Architecture issues. I am versed in multiple programming languages, Operating Systems and RDBMS, I have work experience ranging from microcomputers and PC’s to multiprocessor mid range Unix systems and clusters. I have experience with both wireless and wired network protocols and mediums. And I've help migrate systems into the Amazon EC2 Cloud from self hosted configurations. I collect old working computers, I'm a published Astro-photographer, I tutor, and teach almost every subject I am knowledgeable in. I have had one internet email or another since 1991. I developed Gopher sites prior to the formation of HTTP/HTML and a few websites since then. I wrote my first 'database' on a DEC PDP-11 for the DECUS Library in 1984. Specialties I specialize in Database systems, and am familiar with almost all types of RDBMS and ISAM systems short of Mainframes. I habitually reverse engineer and document everything I touch.

9 thoughts on “Sybase vs Oracle

  1. I’ve been using Sybase database engines for about 11 years and my perception is that they deliver nothing but vaporware. It is very easy to administer but also it is very prone to fail, even more when you take the risk to use the ‘new features’ they sell in every new release.
    To use Sybase safely, you must wait 6 to 12 months until one patch turns the release in a relatively stable one.
    Also the tools they provide to scan for physical inconsistencies or database problems and correct them are so bad… they are really a big problem by itself; if a physical problem or inconsistency really exist you’ll never be noticed, until the problem crashes down your operation.

  2. 11 Years means you were using Sybase-11 not the best series, but only a fool uses version 1 or any release. You wouldn’t install version 1 of Microsoft OS would you? Why would you trust a Production server with a first release of Sybase, or Oracle for that matter. not 12, but 12.1 not 12.5, but 12.5.1 knowing that, I have always had a quick response from Sybase about EBF’s and they always work and easy and safe to apply.

  3. Sybase ASE is the Ferrari of databases.

    Let the masses use overpriced junk, I’ll take superior technology anytime.

  4. I have been using ASE for 8 years and ave seen mayor imporvements and have also suffered form erarly release buggy software. I would say thatASE 12.5.4 ESD 4 is the mose relaible, ESD 5 introduced new bugs re VIEWS and wait until ASE 15.0.1 ESD 5 gets released before upgrading!

  5. We are software development company, using all 3 popular RDBMSs, namely, Sybase, Oracle and MS SQL Server. Sybase’s ASA is the preferred one to bundle with our ERP and Financial products and Sybase ASE, etc. provided for custom-built medium and large scale software solutions.
    In our observation, we find that Sybase’s products, both ASE and ASA are the most stable and cost effective RDBMSs we have worked with. We have provided few enterprise systems such as SCM, on ASE, after carful evaluaion of all 3 technologies, because, once installed Sybase products simply work, 24x7x365.
    Especially, even if, due to any human errors the hardware fails, ASE will still continue to serve the users, until we shut it down properly. Oracle will not only go down, but also will require to set it up again, going thru the tedious process of installation and configurations.
    An example, might prove the point. Recently, one of our large installations, running on ASE 12.5.2, on SUN Solaris (multi-processor SUN Server), faced a Hardware problem. A junior IT guy from the client’s IT department, pulled a night data-back up tape before the job was over. That made the OS to hang. Panicking, he’d tried to reboot Solaris. Solaris wanted the backup process to be properly closed before shutting down. This went into a loop. Until the follwoing morning, we were not informed. But, all that time, this 24 hour system was accessed by hundreds of users, without anyone knowing that that their DB Server Computer was having problem, because, Sybase ASE was continuing to serve them. We solved the problem by physically rebooting the Server computer and Sybase ASE simply continued as if nothing happened. Entire operation was over within 30 minutes, max.
    This is in total contrast to a fiasco we faced with another customer, using Orcale, (I do not remember the exact version now, could have been 7) of a similar nature, where after rebooting, Oracle has to be re-installed and re-configured. It took nearly 5-6 hours.
    Though there are ‘Pundits’ who talk big about big ‘brand’ names, and feeling safe by ‘recommending’ them, it is the end-customer who is going to suffer, expecially, the costs of initial and coninuous running of Oracle based systems.
    We, however, coninute to provide our application software for both types of customers, Pundits and Real-Benefit- Seekers.
    Our cautionary note would be:
    A user-company, after installing a RDBMS, need not bother whether the supplier is there or not, Instead they should concentrate mainly on enhacing the Application softare to suit their changing business-needs and getting more performance out of the database, thru Performance Tuning using Professionals.
    Rather than wasting time trying to keep on ‘upgrading’ technologies, try to use all the advanced feaures available in the existing technology version, which will take lot of time to learn, understand, harness and utilise.
    Please, be truthful and loyal to the organisation where u work. Give them the low costing solutions which are also fast performing and low resource consuming, if necessary after evaluting all 3 RDBMSs truthfully. Getting the company reps to demo the performance on a ‘Proof of Concept’ (POC) basis, will definitely show the benefits before the company invests.

  6. Your story reminded me of a Sun system with a fiber optic array. Someone working on an adjacent system knocked the array connector loose, but the Sybase instance operating on that array didn’t stop working for hours until it couldn’t write any more to it’s cache. And while it would allow you to log in, it wasn’t working. Before we tried a shutdown, we discovered the loose connection, and once we reseated it, Sybase wrote all it’s buffers and continued on as if nothing had happened. Not even a reboot or restart was required.

  7. I am a DBA working with a large financial organization Primarily in Sybase/Oracle & SQL Server. My personal favorite is Sybase, in my experience it is more robust, stable and cost effective then the other databases.

    The current Sybase share of approx 3% as compared to other database is I believe due to very poor marketing. The marketing of Oracle and Microsoft is world apart!

    1. The Marketing of Sybase has always been disappointing. So many missed opportunities to grow, and extend their market have been missed over the years I couldn’t even tell you. I once has a discussion with their VP for marketing, and submitted a killer idea to him. And they choose to ignore it completely.

  8. i Agree that anytime sybase is best !! Oracle just makes their publicity more than sybase….. But as you know bestones dont do publicity !!! 😉

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