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.
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.”
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.
“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.”