Open-Source Community Eager for Cloudscape Code

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2004-08-05 Print this article Print

IBM's move to open-source its Java database "permits applications to count on the functionality of a real database from the get-go," says a member of the Apache Software Foundation.

Going by early feedback, the open-sourcing of IBMs Cloudscape Java database is putting the open-source community on cloud nine. Noel Bergman, chief technology officer at DevTech Inc. and an Apache Software Foundation member who serves as a committer on the James [Java Apache Mail Enterprise Server] Project and as vice president of the Apache Incubator, said developers are eager to use the code. "Weve had some people already asking if we can incorporate it into Apache James, as an example" of the excitement around the news, Bergman said in an instant messaging exchange.
Apache James is a 100 percent pure Java SMTP and POP3 mail server and NNTP news server. As such, it illustrates why the open-source community is so glad to get its hands on "Derby," the code name of the Cloudscape copy IBM is granting to the Apache Software Foundation.
As it is, James uses an externalized model of a database, Bergman explained. "All of the SQL commands are maintained in an external XML file that describes how Oracle, DB2, MySQL, [PostgreSQL], etc., are used," he wrote. Click here to read about IBM handing more than 500,000 lines of its Java database code to the Apache Software Foundation. Without an embeddable SQL database, applications such as James have had to use ad hoc data stores or expect an external database to be installed separately before the application could be used. "With Derby, applications can ship with a database preconfigured, and then people who wish to use an external [database], such as MySQL, DB2, Oracle or PostgreSQL can migrate from Derby to the external [database]," he said. "But it permits applications to count on the functionality of a real database from the get-go." Bergman pointed to applications such as IBMs WebSphere Portal, wherein the database is central to the operation of the portal. "You simply must have one," he said. "Prior to using Cloudscape, you had to install and configure a database server and configure the portal for that server. Just to get started. With Cloudscape, it comes preconfigured, and they can provide export scripts." Click here for more on the strategy behind open-sourcing Cloudscape, and on Computer Associates purpose for open-sourcing its Ingres database. Another open-source expert, Dennis Murray, president of Marist College, in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., said IBMs move represents a "further enhancement to the open-source movement" that particularly will interest developers who just dont need the large footprint of DB2. "IBMs major offering of DB2, which is very, very robust and very substantial and has a very large footprint, is more than many developers need," he said. Another positive aspect of the open-sourcing of Cloudscape is that it will enable organizations to ramp up slowly, Murray said. "A program like this, that developers can build into their [own] programs, is a very positive step," he said. "I personally think one of the advantages of the program is if an organization is growing and developing and outgrows Derby, there will be the ability to migrate to other databases, including being upwardly compatible with DB2. Thats a very positive aspect of this for organizations—choosing software that anticipates growth for their organizations." Murray said he also likes the fact that IBM handed the code over to Apache as opposed to keeping it closer to home a la Computer Associates International Inc.s recent handling of the open-sourcing of its Ingres r3 database. CA threw a $1 million gambit to lure users off of commercial databases and onto its open-sourced Ingres database. Read more here. "The way [IBM is] going about this, turning this package over to Apache Software [Foundation], is a clear demonstration theyre fully committed to the entire philosophy [of open source] and there will be an independent organization overseeing future development and enhancement of this particular program," Murray said. "Thats probably the major significance of this." Check out eWEEK.coms Database Center at for the latest database news, reviews and analysis.

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Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

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