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M&A Impact: Centura Embeds Raima as It Scales Down Market.

Last week's $10m+ stock purchase of embedded database specialist Raima Corporation moves the once ailing Centura Software deep into the micro-database sector, a niche that is expecting a mini- boom as Windows CE based information appliances arrive to market. Centura, based in Redwood Shores, California, says the addition of Seattle-based Raima makes it one of the largest players in the market for embedded micro and e-commerce databases and data management tools for both real-time and Windows applications. The company says that by June 1 1999 it will exchange 5.8 million of its shares for the privately held 90-strong company in return for a foothold in a sector that IDC has estimated to be growing at a rate of 70% a year. Raima brings with it Velocis, a small footprint product that has been crafted for the embedded database market. It's fast and it's cheap and as a result it has found itself embedded in a good many commercial software products - Rational's ClearCase configuration management suite, CA's ArcServe and Platinum's Paradigm Plus CASE tool set to name just three. Essentially Raima produces highly optimized database management systems that can cope with either the relational or the network database model, which is attractive since most business data is held either in RDBMS or in the hierarchical or network DBMS that preceded them. This is why a whole lot of C++ to RDBMS mapping products have arisen from Centura rivals Persistence, Subtle, Ontos and RogueWave. Centura contends that today the overriding direction of information management is in connecting micro and e-commerce databases to core business systems, in a secure fashion. 'The combined company will leverage its strengths in connectivity and browser based access to information, to and from appliances, mobile users, desktops and back-end servers' says Scott Broomfield, Centura's CEO. Raima's annualized revenues were $9m in this last year. Founded in Seattle in 1982 it released db Vista in 1984 (later renamed Raima Database Manager or RDM) as a desktop database management system aimed at use among professional C programmers. Joined by the later release of Raima's Object Manager, they became hugely popular database products for C and C++ developers. Royalty free, and sold with or without source code, RDM is available for almost every platform that supports a C compiler, from Unix and Windows to Linux and Windows CE and real-time operating systems. It boasts a client base that includes IBM, Cabletron and Siemens- Nixdorf to Andersen Consulting and Discover Card. Raima claims as many as 10,000 software companies and professional developers have used its database engines. As for Centura, it has been in financial turmoil since the mid- 90s. The company started life as Gupta Corporation and a PC relational database management specialist but fell on particularly hard times during 1994. There are signs of resurgence, however. Latest results for the financial year ending December 1998 showed an operating income touching $4m on revenues of $53m. None of this should distract from the basic fact that over a million copies of Centura's flagship SQLBase are in use, making it one of the most successful database management systems in the industry. And post-merger (start of June is likely) Centura says sales should escalate as it starts to cross-sell the three database options of SQLBase 7.5/SafeGarde, RDM and Velocis. For cross-platform solutions it will be proposing Raima's Velocis. Where performance and security are more important it would sell its own SQLBase. The company says it will adopt Raima's RDM as its preferred small footprint database and cease all development work of its own in this area. Over time the company adds, it will add end-to-end security to all of the acquired products. Many of the applications built using Centura's now extended product line tend to be found in relatively insecure environments, outside of a firewall and possibly embedded in portable devices. For such systems, security is becoming an increasingly important must-have feature and Centura thinks it can win much more business in this area. Rather than simply encrypt communications, Centura proposes that everything is encrypted from the backup and log files, to the database itself and all communications on the network between the database and client. Portable computing devices, information appliances and/or embedded database applications will never be fully secure unless all of these aspects are protected. And with Raima Centura feels it has all it needs to progress with its scheme. An added attraction of the Raima deal is its consulting practice, a service subsidiary known as Vista Development Corporation specializing in applications design and development.
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Title Annotation:Company Business and Marketing
Publication:Computergram International
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 22, 1999
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