DATABASE software tools specialist Gupta Corp has set up a regional headquarters operation in Hong Kong to strengthen the firm's after-sales support operation throughout Asia. The company has also established a separate Hong Kong/China subsidiary to address the fast-growing market for database management systems in China. The new Asia headquarters will include a special Asian Support Centre (ASC), staffed by five support engineers, to provide technical assistance to Gupta's regional distributors and re-sellers. The new Gupta Asia office will be headed by Hong Kong-based software industry veteran George Billman, who will be responsible for sales, marketing and technical support in 15 countries from Korea to Indonesia and west to Pakistan. Heading the company's Hong Kong/China subsidiary is Francis Ng, who most recently headed Gupta's biggest rival in the database tools market in Hong Kong, Powersoft. The firm has already established an operational office in Beijing and Shanghai, and plans to open a Guangzhou office later this year. Gupta has benefitted in recent times from the strong growth of open systems-based client/server systems, particularly in China, with its suite of desktop database development tools tailored to open architectures. 'In the 1980s SQL database vendors emerged to meet market demand for database systems that were independent of hardware and operating system platforms,' Mr Billman said. 'Today the demand is for graphical application development tools that are independent of the SQL databases.' The company has continued to specialise in providing graphical-based tools that let users create client-server applications quickly, using object-oriented technologies made up of powerful pre-built components. Mr Billman said the company had realised the need to bring direct support resources closer to Gupta's regional clients, which needed 'the assurance that there was a strong support team standing by to resolve problems'. 'Major end users are increasingly concerned to protect their application investment and preserve their flexibility when it comes to SQL database technology,' Mr Billman said.