IBM Corp. Tuesday announced two open source initiatives around its application server offerings and standards in the storage community.
The Armonk, N.Y.-based company announced a new version of its WebSphere application server, dubbed the WebSphere application Server Community Edition (WAS CE). WAS CE is based on the Apache Software Foundations Geronimo open source application server and is one of the fruits of IBMs acquisition of Gluecode Software last May, said Scott Cosby, the IBM Transition Executive in charge of integrating Gluecode into the IBM fold.
Cosby said WAS CE is “analogous to Gluecode standard edition” and is “90 percent the same as Geronimo, but under the IBM name we did some additional testing based on the IBM JVM [Java Virtual Machine].” Indeed Cosby said the technology had to go through “blue washing” or the process of IBM vetting the technology to meet the companys requirements “from a legal, quality and performance perspective.”
WAS CE provides midsize businesses and enterprise departments with access to open source-based technologies with no upfront costs, Cosby said. And WAS CE is a customizable application server that features a small footprint and is easier to download and manage. The offering is a lightweight Java Enterprise Edition-certified application server that is a 60MB download, Cosby said.
In addition, “We are offering optional fee-based support from IBM,” Cosby said. There is no cost for customers to download and use WAS CE. Yet, for customers that want technical support, IBM is introducing a full line of WAS CE support services starting at $900 per server for an annual subscription. Available support includes a new developer-to-developer support service that allows customers development teams to obtain support directly from IBM. Cosby said IBM will offer three levels of support: entry, enhanced and elite.
Cosby said IBM is committed to seeing that the Apache Geronimo project is successful. “Weve been participating in the Geronimo project, and we decided to provide an offering around it,” he said. “WAS CE will help give customers an additional choice when they need a lightweight platform. Weve seen a great deal of interest from customers in a variety of ways.” Some customers are interested in using WAS CE as an embeddable application server and others are interested in it as a platform for broad deployment of applications, he said.
Moreover, Cosby said, WAS CE and related subscription support provide a more affordable alternative to some commercial software offerings and can help customers begin to deploy an SOA (service-oriented architecture). WAS CE also supports the Apache Tomcat Web server and will also integrate IBMs Cloudscape database, which is based on the open source Apache Derby Project, the company said.
Meanwhile, Cosby said WAS CE “fits into the IBM application server portfolio nicely: It reaches a segment of the market that before we couldnt reach very well.” The WebSphere application server offering above WAS CE is WebSphere Express. Above that is the Network Deployment edition of the product, and above that is the Extended Deployment edition of the technology, also known as WebSphere XD, Cosby said. He said WAS CE provides an introduction into the WebSphere application server family and enables users to get a taste, as IBM will help users transition to more feature-rich versions of WebSphere as their needs evolve.
“This is the next step as part of the transition to bring Gluecode into the WebSphere family,” Cosby said.
Michael Goulde, an analyst with Forrester Inc, said of the WAS CE news: “Among traditional software suppliers, IBM leads the industry in incorporating open source software in its product offerings. Geronimo/Gluecode is just the latest example. Ignoring open source used in IBM AIX, the practice goes all the way back to IBM adopting the Apache Web Server in 1998 for use in WebSphere, its Rational development tools are built on Eclipse, and now Geronimo is the foundation for WAS CE. IBMs success with this strategy will tell us a lot about the long-term impact of open source on the software industry.”
Meanwhile, IBM announced that it was joining a group of storage industry leaders to form an open source community.
Joining IBM are Brocade Communication Systems, Cisco Systems Inc., Computer Associates International Inc., Engenio Information Technologies, Fujitsu Limited, McDATA Corp. and Network Appliance Inc. They form a new open source community known under the project name Aperi. The goal of Aperi is to give customers more choices for deploying open-standards-based storage infrastructure software, IBM officials said. The organization plans to develop a common storage software management platform that will give customers greater flexibility in the way they manage their storage environments.
Aperi—derived from the Latin word for “to open” —will take an open approach to build a common platform for managing all brands of storage systems, with community members contributing code and taking advantage of a common platform for building storage software applications, IBM officials said.
The effort will be modeled after the Eclipse Foundation, which is an effort to deliver an open source application development platform, IBM officials said. And like Eclipse, which IBM started in 2001, the Aperi community will feature software from IBM as part of its core, the company said. The Aperi community will create an open storage software platform, comprised of software donated by IBM and its industry partners, and will function as a not-for-profit foundation that will manage and foster open source projects to extend the platform, IBM officials said.