IBM Buys Open-Source Provider Gluecode

Updated: The acquisition means that IBM will acquire some of the top developers on the Apache Geronimo application server, putting pressure on rivals JBoss and Novell.

IBM Tuesday announced that it has acquired open-source software provider Gluecode Software Inc. in a deal that strengthens IBMs middleware portfolio.

IBMs acquisition of El Segundo, Calif.-based Gluecode means that IBM will acquire some of the top developers on the Apache Geronimo application server. Gluecodes application infrastructure is based on Geronimo.

Indeed, some observers said the acquisition of Gluecode puts pressure on JBoss Inc., a leading open-source application server, and possibly on Novell Corp. to tighten its relationship with JBoss. Novell now targets JBoss as its application server of choice for its customers who require an application server.

"I think this is a move on IBMs part to counter the momentum of JBoss to have a monopoly in open-source middleware," said Bob Bickel, vice president of strategy and corporate development at Atlanta-based JBoss.

"We take it very seriously; IBM is a big company with a lot of resources, but Geronimo is a low-end application server—not like ours, which is enterprise-class. And we have a large ecosystem. The question is will IBM have a bait-and-switch strategy with their customers, where they use Geronimo on the low end and WebSphere on the high end? Or will there be a single product that runs the same from the low end to the high end like ours?"

In addition, IBM acquires Gluecode just after members of Gluecodes development team, who also are members of the Apache Software Foundation, launched the Harmony project, which is aimed at delivering an open-source version of J2SE (Java 2 Platform, Standard Edition). IBM has called on Java steward Sun Microsystems Inc. to open-source Java.

"I think this may pressure Sun to move faster and better to open-source Java," Bickel said.

/zimages/6/28571.gifClick here to read more about Suns plans to open-source Java.

IBM has long been a friend of the open-source community, having contributed to the Apache Software Foundation, incorporating the Apache open-source Web server, and contributing its Cloudscape database technology to Apaches Derby Project, as well as delivering code and funding to launch and maintain the Eclipse open-source development platform and helping to make Linux viable in enterprise systems.

"IBM sees growing demand for a broad range of application integration middleware in the marketplace, including open standards-based and open-source Java application server technology, especially amongst SMB and departmental users," said Robert LeBlanc, general manager of Application and Integration Middleware at the IBM Software Group, in a statement. "With the Gluecode acquisition, IBM enables customers and Business Partners to tap the low cost of entry of open-source technology to quickly develop and deploy applications, and migrate to WebSphere software as business needs expand."

JBoss Bickel said the IBM acquisition "has an impact. Its a really big move and is pretty important. It indicates the rising tide of open source above the operating system, and I think it will cause all boats to rise. Thats good for us, as it helps IT managers understand how to do business with open source."

Meanwhile, IBM said it will become an active contributor in the Apache Geronimo project and will expand the base of developers working on the project. IBM also said it will contribute Gluecode-built software to Geronimo, as well as Eclipse-based tooling to the overall open-source community to help developers build Geronimo applications.

In addition, IBM will continue the Gluecode services model of reaping revenue from delivering services around the Geronimo application server, company officials said. With the acquisition, IBM will enable customers and partners to download Gluecode application server software and start development and deployment at no cost, and then purchase software support services from IBM.

Gluecodes operations will be integrated into IBMs Software Group, IBM officials said.

Editors Note: This story was updated to include comments from Bob Bickel of JBoss.

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