SpikeSource to Unveil New Products, Updates to Open-Source Stacks

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2005-04-04

SpikeSource to Unveil New Products, Updates to Open-Source Stacks

SpikeSource Inc., an open-source IT services company, has developed a solution for what it says is one of the biggest problems facing open-source technology adoption by large enterprises today: the lack of uniform integration, certification, testing and support for that software.

SpikeSource, of Redwood City, Calif., will use the Open Source Business Conference in San Francisco this week to announce the production availability of seven pre-configured SpikeSource Core Stacks as well as its related customer subscription service, which provides updates to certified open-source stacks.

It will also launch its ISV and open-source developer programs, which include an ISV testing and certification service.

SpikeSource is already testing and validating a number of components from ISVs and open-source providers, including Apache Axis, Apache Geronimo, Business Objects, JBoss, Lucene, MySQL, PostgreSQL, Pramati, Sleepycat Software and SugarCRM, across various operating system platforms.

On Tuesday, the company will also detail partnerships with companies like Novell, Red Hat, Black Duck, Cognizant, Intel, Sun Microsystems, JBoss and MySQL, as well as the launch of its Information Services, which is a knowledge base and a set of tools to help companies figure out what open source to use and how to implement it in their environment, CEO Kim Polese, told eWeek in an interview ahead of the launch.

SpikeSource, which was established two years ago by Ray Lane, the general partner of venture capital firm KPCB (Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers), and Murugan Pal, the former CTO of Asera, is funded by KPCB, Intel and Fidelity Ventures and now employs some 40 staff in three countries, Polese said.

The seven stacks incorporate 63 open-source components running on six platforms, including Red Hat Linux and Novells SuSE Linux as well as Microsoft Windows, with support for Suns Solaris and other Linux distributions planned going forward.

The stacks also support six programming languages and associated services, she said, and the betas are available for free download.

"The objective of the company is to provide a vendor-neutral solution for open source for enterprises so they can choose which distribution they want to run and which open-source components. We want to provide them choice and flexibility across the operating system, the database, the application server and other categories," she said.

The company was solving the problem of interoperability, which was the biggest issue companies faced in using open source in enterprise production.

Once companies had embraced open source and implemented this in a production environment, they were typically running dozens of components and had a versioning problem as those components were constantly changing and evolving, Polese said.

"Their IT staff are consumed by scouring for patches and features and downloading those and then incorporating them into an integrated installation process. That takes an enormous amount of time, and thats the problem we are setting up to solve for these companies, offloading that task for them," Polese said.

Microsoft Corp. has also been pushing the issue of interoperability and Windows "superiority" to open source software in that regard.

Click here to read more about Microsoft tackling interoperability.

In fact, earlier this year, Bill Gates, Microsofts chairman and chief software architect, sent an executive e-mail to customers and partners titled "Building Software That Is Interoperable By Design."

Next Page: Attracting clients.

Attracting clients

SpikeSource has already landed one enterprise client, investment bank Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, which is working with SpikeSource to support the banks testing and deployment of new and existing applications.

The bank has signed up for SpikeSources subscription and enterprise support services.

"Platform independence is fundamental to our open-source strategy, and SpikeSource is an important part of helping us achieve that. The SpikeSource solution enables our engineering teams to focus on client-facing initiatives with the confidence that the banks environments have been tested and certified and are free of interoperability issues," JP Rangaswami, the global CIO at Dresdner, said in a statement.

Each of the seven stacks has been tested and validated and includes add-on functional features that have been designed for faster implementation and easy application management.

By automating the complex process of stack testing, SpikeSource is able to run 22,000 tests nightly to ensure that interoperability issues are identified and upgrades and patches are integrated.

These core stacks have been in development for more than a year and have been available in open public beta since last December.

"We have spent some 18 months developing a fully automated test bed for open-source component interoperability testing, and we now run more than 22,000 tests nightly. Hundreds of people have downloaded the stack during the public beta period, and thousands are accessing the results," Polese said.

"Each of these core stacks that will be released typically involves optimizing 272 parameters distributed across 189 configuration files and 63 components to yield seven pre-configured stacks for developing applications in Java, PHP, Perl, Python C and C++," she said, adding that network and client installers will be available for both pre-configured and custom stacks.

To read more about open-source infrastructure software development, click here.

SpikeSource will also offer four different levels of technical support.

Each support level includes a subscription update service and access to the SpikeSearch online knowledge base, and is available as a three-month or annual subscription.

The annual fee starts at under $1,000 and increases to some $25,000 for Gold support.

SpikeSource will also announce that it is contributing both software projects and standardized interfaces contributions to the open-source community.

On the software front, it is donating the SAM (SpikeSource Asset Manager), an open-source, cross-platform framework for identifying and reporting locally installed open-source components.

It probes for components commonly found in a LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) stack and can find multiple versions that are installed in a local disk, query an RPM (RedHat Package Manager) database or operating systems repository, and listen to standard ports and indicate which components are running.

It operates as a standalone tool and does not send any information to SpikeSource, Polese said.

SpikeSource will also donate an inventory management tool, PHPCoverage, which is an application that gives code coverage analysis while testing software developed in PHP.

The company is also handing over the code for the Test Upload Interface and the Test Results Publication to facilitate the development of standard test information metadata and test result sharing in the open-source community.

There was good demand for SpikeSources products and solutions from enterprises using open source in production environments, Polese said.

"They are telling us that they have several staff doing nothing but looking for bug fixes, certifying and implementing these.

"They are also having trouble controlling the use of open source as it does not go through a procurement process and there is no inventory and no control over what comes in. They want help with this, and we can provide that," she said.

Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.

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