Bull will become a reseller of JBoss middleware and the two companies will collaborate on research and development projects.
The move is remarkable because Bull is one of the driving forces behind the ObjectWeb open source consortium. Both organisations develop middleware and have overlapping software portfolios.
Red Hat ditched its Red Hat application server earlier this year that was based on ObjectWeb's Jonas software when it acquired JBoss.
Jonas is generally considered to be technologically superior to the JBoss application server, but Red Hat had been unsuccessful in selling the software.
Paul Cormier, vice president of engineering at Red Hat, is a board member at ObjectWeb, and Red Hat donated code to ObjectWeb's Open Corba Component Model project.
Bull's move indicates that the company is abandoning the Jonas application server, according to a source familiar with the matter who asked to remain anonymous.
Faced by consolidation in the open source application server market, Bull realised that further developing the software had no benefit. "Bull is throwing in the towel on its open source J2EE strategy," the source said.
ObjectWeb chairman Jean-Pierre Laisné told vnunet.com that the partnership does not signal a rift between Bull and ObjectWeb, and that the parties plan to cooperate more closely.
"Instead of competitor, I would use the term 'coopetitor' with Jboss. We have a tremendous potential of cooperation and we keep on competing on some technologies because competition is good for innovation," he said.
"All together we are commoditising middleware, both of us proposing an open source alternative to proprietary middleware."
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