IBM's Gluecode Buy Gives WebSphere An Open-Source Boost

IBM, Armonk, N.Y., said the Gluecode software will give it an "entry-level" open-source software infrastructure platform for the Apache Geronimo server for small and midsize businesses.

Gluecode ships open and standard editions of its JOE Java-certified application stack. The company has an enterprise edition under development, but it is not clear if that will ship. IBM intends to sell JOE to SMB customers and migrate them to WebSphere for higher-end needs, IBM said.

IBM's first acquisition of an open-source software firm, the deal represents its growing investment in the Apache Software Foundation. IBM will pick up Gluecode principals Geir Magnusson Jr. and CTO Jeremy Boynes, key players in the Apache Geronimo project. "The service-oriented business model has been working well for Gluecode, and IBM is lucky to get their talented software developers and open-source leaders," said Anthony Awtrey, vice president at Ideal Technology, Orlando, Fla. "IBM is looking at leveraging Gluecode's good relationships with the Apache group to its advantage. I imagine IBM would love to be in the driver's seat for Java and related development technologies, but they have to get out ahead of Sun."

IBM's move will help its WebSphere software compete against Sun's on the commercial side while staving off inroads made by the open-source market leader, JBoss.

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JBoss CEO Marc Fleury said he is unfazed by IBM's aggressive move. "Bring it on," he said.

Stephen O'Grady, senior analyst with market- research firm Red Monk, described Gluecode as the underdog in the category but said it gives IBM customers and business partners an open-source alternative to high-end commercial Java app server platforms. And, say analysts, Gluecode gives IBM a stratified WebSphere portfolio of both open-source and commercial offerings.

"This does compete with WebSphere Application Server, but IBM is once again taking the strategy of putting their money on all the numbers on the table, thereby guaranteeing a winner," said Shawn Willett, an analyst with market-research firm Current Analysis.