Open Source or Open

By Steve Gillmor  |  Posted 2004-03-04 Print this article Print

Standards?"> Why does IBM see Sun as such a threat? You have to go no further than the aggressive licensing strategy that Schwartz is now expanding to per-citizen licensing. Suns Java Desktop System pricing has already reaped some benefits in bringing Microsoft to the bargaining table, and now WebSphere is feeling the pinch. If you add JBoss 27 percent to Suns 14 percent app server share, you already have formidable downward market pressure on IBMs offering. "When youre leading the market you hate standards, and when youre lagging the market you love standards," Schwartz observes. "I see IBM as leading the market and frustrated that they cant deliver a new feature in Websphere without customers coming back to them and saying, but thats not in J2EE. And I think thats very frustrating for them, because they want to be able to split off and do things that only come from IBM."
If JES drops to $.33 cents a seat in the third world, what does that do for WebSphere and IBMs core revenue model—Global Services? At the very least, it puts pressure on them to drop WebSpheres (and DB2s) price, or even open source them.
Then the other shoe drops, with citizen or hardware-partnered pricing on JDS. Now youve got whole countries standardized on the Java stack, with N1 moving into the pipeline to take over deployment and management services. Suddenly, its Hey IBM, I got your on-demand right here. Its clear why IBM wants Java control, but how about its erstwhile partner in market force power politics, Microsoft? Turning Java open source would tend to reduce the investment in Java Windows implementations, further cementing its desktop hegemony. Regardless of the outcome, Redmond wins when its competitors fight among themselves. Leave it to Sutor to say more, with less, than he intends: "Were trying to walk before we run on this," he reassured Darryl Taft. "Were not looking for the world on Day One." What about Day Two, Bob? Check out eWEEK.coms Messaging Center at for more on IM and other collaboration technologies.
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Steve Gillmor is editor of's Messaging & Collaboration Center. As a principal reviewer at Byte magazine, Gillmor covered areas including Visual Basic, NT open systems, Lotus Notes and other collaborative software systems. After stints as a contributing editor at InformationWeek Labs, editor in chief at Enterprise Development Magazine, editor in chief and editorial director at XML and Java Pro Magazines, he joined InfoWorld as test center director and columnist.

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