Open-Source Startups In Spotlight

At the Open Source Business Conference (OSBC) East earlier this month, several of these companies detailed their use of open-source projects as well as open and de facto standards to accelerate adoption of open-source apps.

Centeris, Bellevue, Wash., highlighted its Likewise Open Agent project and its commercial Likewise solution launched in October that allows Windows administrators to manage Linux servers from the Microsoft Management Console (MMC).

The Free Standards Group and Linux Standard Base said LSB standards used for Linux distribution development were approved by the ISO.

Funambol, Redwood City, Calif., showed off Sync4j Server, a mobile synchronization server that uses SyncML to support multiple mobile devices, and Shelton, Conn.-based Active Endpoints spotlighted its open-source project and commercial Active BPEL engine, which uses the Business Process Execution Language (BPEL) standard.

Software executives from Sun Microsystems and Intel said the use of open standards will accelerate use of open-source applications in a world still dominated by Microsoft Windows.

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Dirk Hohndel, director of Linux and open-source software strategy at Intel and former CTO of Suse Linux, agreed that standards are driving the open-source application sector forward.

“There&'s one common thread: BPEL, SyncML and MMC. These are all standards of some shape or form that help companies make something happen,” said Hohndel, who spoke at the Newton, Mass., event.

More significantly, the Free Standards Group and Linux Standard Base (LSB) announced that LSB standards used for Linux distribution development won official approval as an International Standardization Organization (ISO) standard, signifying the maturing of the Linux OS.

Sun CTO Hal Stern said standards such as LSB and TCP/IP, the backbone of today&'s Internet, typically win out over proprietary efforts and drive development.

Stern identified five open-source business models, including content-subscription models favored by Red Hat and JBoss, open-source stack integration and deployment models backed by services firms SpikeSource and Optaros and other support models.

Other firms are trying hosted services and derivative open-source models used in OEM distribution for embedded devices and appliances. “There are lots of opportunities for new business models,” Stern said.

CEOs of Optaros, SpikeSource, Active Endpoint, SugarCRM, MySQL and rPath faced off against technology buyers on the merits and deficits of open-source applications.

Also at the conference, Centeris showed its LikeWise Linux server management and configuration tool. Funambol demonstrated the beta of its Sync4j Portal, which lets users wirelessly synchronize address books and calendars between PCs and mobile devices.

Sri Lankan ISV WS02 said it will ship Tungsten lightweight middleware server for service-oriented architectures in January. The offering, based on Apache Axis2, Geronimo and Hibernate, supports SOAP, WSDL, WS-Security and WS-ReliableMessaging and will go up against BEA WebLogic.

Active Endpoints showed off its ActiveWebFlow engine for IBM WebSphere and BEA WebLogic.

ActiveGrid&'s Application Builder and LAMP Application Server, released in August, is for enterprises wishing to develop Web 2.0 applications using AJAX interfaces. The San Francisco ISV uses BPEL, XML, XPath and XForms standards.

U.K.-based XenSource is prepping a commercial solution based on Xen 3.0 virtualization. The Xen open-source virtualization project it oversees is backed by Intel, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Novell and Red Hat as the de facto standard.

Edison, N.J.-based EnterpriseDB rolled out Release 2 of its EnterpriseDB 2005, a high-end relational database based on PostgreSQL.