IBM has announced it is to bundle the freeware Apache Web server inerver. its WebSphere Application Server, and has promised to develop and support the software in conjunction with the Apache community.
The move could propel the Apache software into the commercial Web server environment to compete with offerings from NetScape and others. Apache currently runs just over 49% of Web servers on the Internet, according to UK networking consultant Netcraft, and is regarded by some as the fastest and most scalable Web server available. But on commercial sites its share is as low as 25%, compared to Netscape's 35%. With IBM's endorsement, the freeware server could cause commercial vendors a few headaches. IBM's move to embrace the Open Source movement - people or companies that develop and distribute free code - follows similar announcements from Netscape, Sun and Corel.
IBM officials claimed the decision was based on Apache's scalability and support for open standards. IBM will eventually phase out its own Domino Go Web server. "We're going to be shipping WebSphere with both (servers) initially," said Tony Occleshaw, IBM marketing manager. To integrate with the Domino platform, Occleshaw said IBM would be "working with Apache developers and adding the benefits of the Go HTTP server to Apache. But we will contribute the technology back to the Apache community."
Jeff Barnett, IBM's WebSphere product manager in the US, said: "We'll have a support program based on the standard Apache code base. We haven't finalised which operating systems we'll support, but (initially) it'll probably be Solaris, NT and AIX." As for Linux, which is probably the most common Apache platform, Barnett said that IBM hadn't yet decided whether to support it. However, he did say that that IBM had "already started work with the Apache group on the Win32 version of Apache," a recently released port that is not as stable or as fast as the Unix version.
IBM announced the new lower end WebSphere application server last Monday, and detailed plans for two more versions to be released later this year.
It is due to ship in the UK today and will cost $795 (#476). The next version will support Enterprise JavaBeans (EJB), and another will include the high-availablity technology IBM used for its Nagano Winter Olympics Web site. This first release will also include authoring and scripting tools from NetObjects, makers of the ColdFusion Web development suite.
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