IBM has broken its silence about the potential implications of Red Hats acquisition of JBoss on their current close relationship, saying that it will continue to partner strongly with both Red Hat and Novell.
Red Hat announced April 10 that it was looking to acquire JBoss for $350 million, a move that significantly expands its reach and product portfolio, but puts the open-source vendor in direct competition with partner IBMs WebSphere products going forward.
"We have a strategic relationship with both Red Hat and Novell around Linux, and nothing has changed there. Red Hat is still number one in the Linux market, and we are still number one in Linux server revenue, and so that provides a really strong, fundamental relationship here," said Scott Handy, IBMs vice president for Linux and open source, in Somers, N.Y.
IBMs viewpoint on JBoss and Java and that part of the industry was basically that all Java was good.
"We are all on the same side of the fence here; all Java is good. We have a very balanced point of view here, and as the Java world has always worked, we cooperate on standards and compete on implementations," he said.
Ultimately, there are the closed Microsoft .Net environment and the open Java environment, which IBM likes.
The open-source versions of all this has helped accelerate more of the adoption of open standards and open source, which IBM views as a very good thing, he said.
IBM is also participating in that through acquisitions such as Gluecode and reaching places that WebSphere had not reached previously with its strategies, particularly in the SMB space and in emerging countries, Handy said.
"Our strategies are all actually aligned from that point of view, IBM just brings the value-add from a product perspective through WebSphere and our strategy there is to leverage the adoption of Java and the standard but bring value-add through a set of solutions on top of that through the WebSphere family of products. Thats the instantiation of our strategy that happens to be built on Java," he said.
Asked if the fact that Red Hat will now compete with WebSphere through the JBoss products would affect the deals IBM could and would make with it, Handy said not a lot has really changed because WebSphere runs on both Red Hat Enterprise Linux and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server and JBoss used to be out there and existed, and is still out there and exists now.
He also rebuffed analyst speculation that IBM could work more closely with Novell going forward at the expense of Red Hat.
"So, again, Im not sure anything fundamentally changes. Every partner that IBM has we probably compete in some areas and cooperate in others, and we are very used to that," he said.
"So, again, Im not sure anything fundamentally changes. Every partner that IBM has we probably compete in some areas and co-operate in others and we are very used to that.
"There is also a reason we have strategic alliances with two Linux vendors, to keep the market open, and we are all on the open side of the fence, which is the side that customers want. So we are all doing this together," he said.
Asked if IBM was interested in having WebSphere on Solaris x86 being delivered on Sun or IBM boxes, as has been floated as a possibility going forward by Peder Ulander, vice president of software marketing at Sun Microsystems, of Santa Clara, Calif., Handy said IBM is happy with its existing relationships.
IBM has a lot of customers who are running WebSphere on Solaris Sparc and who are looking to move off this, as well as a subset of clients who have said that as they transition to Linux or something more open, they want to evaluate Solaris 10 on x86.
"But in most cases, if not all, that Ive been involved with, that has been a transitionary step to make it easier because the applications were architected on Solaris.
"Also, from a long-term ecosystem point of view, I believe pretty strongly that there is not room for a third, high-volume operating system on x86, where there is already Windows and Linux," he said.