IBM Sweetens Cloudscape Pot with Developer Challenge

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2004-11-10

IBM Sweetens Cloudscape Pot with Developer Challenge

Big Blue is taking a page from Computer Associates International Inc. when it comes to building community around Cloudscape, the Java database it recently donated to the Apache Software Foundation. Both companies are offering prizes for the best software written for their open-source databases, although IBMs wee prizes—to be announced at ApacheCon 2004 US next week in Las Vegas—do pale in comparison with CAs $1 million challenge.

According to the ApacheCon site, IBM is donating goodies including a first prize of a ThinkPad T42 with 1GB memory, a 40GB disk, a CD-RW/DVD-ROM and integrated wireless networking.

Another prize will be a free round-trip airline ticket, from anywhere in the world, with a full registration packet to ApacheCon 2005 EU and complementary registration to ApacheCon 2005 US.

The contest involves developing code using the Apache Derby Project—IBMs name for the open-source package of which the Cloudscape database is one central piece. A free, half-day tutorial devoted to Derby will take place Sunday at ApacheCon.

In addition, IBM is waving some cash around in order to get the open-source community excited about Cloudscape. A broadened version of its Innovation Grant program for 2005 will include run-time environments that can be targeted by Eclipse-based tools.

The company is particularly encouraging proposals that focus on Derby as well as Eclipse; autonomic computing; scalability and availability technologies; Unstructured Information Management Architecture; and scripting environments such as PHP, Perl and Python.

IBM will accept submissions of applications through Dec. 2. The best applications will net developers awards in the $10,000 to $30,000 range.

A ThinkPad or even $10,000 might seem like small potatoes when compared with the $1 million in prize money that CA is handing out. CA is rewarding developers who concoct tools that will easily migrate users off of all of the major relational databases and onto CAs recently open-sourced relational database, Ingres R3.

Next Page: "A more bite-sized chunk."

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-Sized"> But although it seems counterintuitive, IBMs prize money actually will generate much more interest, experts predict, since IBM is actually asking for a more reasonable commitment. "CA is asking for a different kind of developer, a different commitment," said James Governor, an analyst at RedMonk, in London.

"Cloudscape is targeted at Java developers, who dont have a lot of relational database skills," Governor said. "Theyre certainly not the DBA [database administrator] class youd expect in an environment like Ingres."

Putting a smaller dollar item on Cloudscape Java applications will attract more attention, given the nature of the Java community, he said.

"In the Ingres community, [its a question of], I have to go learn an entirely new thing that doesnt tie into what I do, but then, it is $1 million. As opposed to [the Java community saying], This is something Im very interested in and … it seems like a more bite-sized chunk. Ill go for that."

The reason that the open-source and Java communities are excited about Cloudscape is that theyve long needed a fully embeddable, 100 percent Java, small-footprint storage solution that doesnt need handholding by DBAs—or what IBM is referring to as a "database in a jar."

"Thats appealing to Java developers," Governor said. "Im just dropping it in, and I have a database. Thats a powerful little message."

According to Les King, program director of DB2 marketing, there have been more than 45,000 Cloudscape downloads from IBMs developerWorks site to date. The software, which comprised some half-million lines of database code valued at $85 million when it was donated to the Apache Software Foundation, is now in incubator stage while Apache vets its intellectual property status and makes sure theres a viable community for it.

Brian Fitzpatrick, vice president of public relations at Apache, said the open-source community is displaying a "great deal of interest" in Cloudscape, with contributors already contributing patches, "which is always a good thing," he said.

Apache has about nine developers working on Derby, along with three patch submitters. Its users mailing list has more than 150 subscribers, and its developers mailing list has almost 200, said Fitzpatrick, in Chicago.

The ApacheCon contest will take place on-site. The rules and details will be announced at the conferences opening plenary. Submissions will be accepted from Monday morning until Tuesday evening. The results of the contest will be announced at the closing plenary session Wednesday evening, when prizes will be awarded. Developers must be present at the closing plenary to win prizes.

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