IBM's recent acquisition of software development firm Gluecode will give a huge boost to the open source community, industry experts have predicted.
Analyst firm Gartner said that the move will challenge JBoss, BEA Systems, Oracle and even IBM's own WebSphere Application Server by endorsing the Apache Software Foundation's open source Geronimo project.
Gartner noted that buying Gluecode also means that IBM has acquired the group of lead engineers behind the Apache Geronimo Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) project.
A further boost for the open source movement comes from the fact that IBM has committed to supporting and marketing the Gluecode Standard Edition open source suite, including Apache Geronimo and other open source projects.
Big Blue promised that Gluecode SE will be offered under the IBM open source licence. The Geronimo project remains under the supervision of the Apache Software Foundation.
"IBM has declared its support of open source J2EE by publicly endorsing Apache's Geronimo project and hiring the lead architects and developers behind Geronimo," said an advisory written by Gartner analysts Yefim Natis, Massimo Pezzini and Mark Driver.
"By doing so, IBM challenges the current open source J2EE leader, JBoss (backed by HP, Novell, Unisys and others), as well as Red Hat, which distributes ObjectWeb JonAS."
The report added that this move also puts pressure on commercial J2EE vendors such as BEA, Oracle and SAP to counter IBM's open source investment.
Gartner believes that, through the acquisition, IBM aims to slow down the rapidly growing enterprise adoption of JBoss and test the notion of subscription-based software pricing.
To meet these goals, IBM has endorsed open source J2EE, but positioned it as a low-end departmental alternative to WebSphere Network Deployment. However, Gartner predicts that this low-end targeting of Geronimo may not hold.
IBM "faces some challenges", according to the analyst firm, including the fact that its Geronimo strategy can only begin with the J2EE certification of Geronimo, which still is not scheduled.
Gartner also warned that version 1.0 of Geronimo will have to face well established competing platforms and that some users may feel that IBM is limiting its commitment to its core, and may turn away from WebSphere.
It also pointed out that Geronimo and WebSphere Application Server are based on different internal architectures and are not easily integrated.
Gartner advised IBM customers to "recognise the growing enterprise validity of open source software" and expect gradual technology sharing between WebSphere Application Server and Geronimo.
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