Enterprise software maker Sybase hopes to gain an edge over Oracle and IBM by tackling markets its rivals ignore. Data for mobile devices and security are among the areas the United States-based company has placed large bets on, according to Sybase executives. 'The corporate strategy of Sybase is based on the growth of data and the rise in mobility,' said Thomas Volk, executive vice-president of the company's international field organisation. Sybase recently held the global launch of its latest database, Adaptive Server Enterprise (ASE) 15, in Beijing. The company also gained 700 customers, and 36 per cent came from China, Mr Volk said. 'Most of our customers are concerned about the growing data and the inability of companies to handle it. Our major growth has been in Asia. We had some large projects and many of them were in China. Quite a lot of Sybase customers here played around with the Linux version to see what it was like and I got a lot of excellent feedback from local chief information officers,' he said. One reason for its recent growth, he said, was that many customers felt 'locked in' with Oracle, IBM and Microsoft. Marty Beard, senior vice-president, corporate development and marketing at Sybase, said that ASE 15 gave Sybase an edge. 'ASE 15 puts us ahead of Oracle, IBM and Microsoft. They are at least a year behind us in the security features we have included in this new version,' he said. Mr Volk said Sybase was trying to see itself as part of the information layer of a company, not just a database company that talked only to technical people. 'There is an information layer and that is where we have expertise. Even IBM hardware salesmen come to us and want to work together,' he said. Director of advanced technologies Haridas Nair said his team worked extremely hard to get the new security features right. 'One of the most important things for us was that we wanted the security to be right there at the database level. It simply would not work if every application had to be patched to take advantage of encryption and other security features,' he said. Because IBM now owns Informix and Microsoft is growing steadily, Sybase has slipped. With Oracle possibly overreaching itself by buying so many companies, Sybase may have found a good market. It may even be able to grow that market if the technologies it has put into this latest release are what customers want.