Sybase is expanding its mobile systems with the purchase of XcelleNet for $95 million (£52m).

Sybase will gain XcelleNet's software for managing remote and mobile security, network connections and devices. The new capabilities will become part of Sybase's Unwired Enterprise product and XcelleNet will become part of Sybase's iAnywhere Solutions subsidiary, a statement by the company said. The all-cash deal is expected to close in the next two months.

Sybase will pick up about 2,200 customers worldwide from privately held XcelleNet.

Its Unwired Enterprise products include database, data synchronisation, application design and middleware components as well as information delivery systems for mobile devices. Sybase last year completed its acquisition of AvantGo and integrated AvantGo's mobile information service into Unwired Enterprise.

The latest acquisition will add device management and application management, said Terry Stepien, president of iAnywhere. Customers have been asking for those capabilities so they can keep track of the devices in the field and update the software on a broad range of devices that use different kinds of networks, he said.

XcelleNet has software to support a broad range of remote and mobile access types, from laptops on dial-up to Blackberry devices on GPRS. A single device may use different networks at different times, such as in a police department where in-car notebooks use GPRS on the road and Wi-Fi in the police station parking lot, said Joan Herbig, XcelleNet's CEO. In that situation, XcelleNet software can sense the change and hold back bandwidth-intensive tasks until the device gets on to the faster network, she said. "The customers don't want to have to worry about switching certain settings, based on what they're doing."

Integration of the two companies' technology may lead to new offerings for machine-to-machine communication, such as RFID on retail products, Stepien said. That will require mobile database and data synchronisation capabilities along with device management, he said.

Friday's deal is just the latest investment in mobile technology by Sybase, which has moved beyond its traditional database technology to focus on enterprise business integration, particularly support for mobile users, said Colin White, founder and president of BI Research. In the business integration field, Sybase has zeroed in on mobile users more than its competitors, such as IBM, Microsoft and Oracle.

Mobile use of enterprise applications is growing but still fairly specialised, despite the push into the field by Sybase and others, White said. "In certain companies it's very important, but in the mass market it has yet to really take off," White said. That is particularly true in the US, which lags behind Japan and Europe in mobile data adoption, he added.

XcelleNet's whole work force, about 160 employees, will be moved over to the iAnywhere payroll. The deal will extend XcelleNet's reach beyond North America and Europe to Sybase's worldwide footprint, executives said.