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Acquisition to Help IBM Compete with BEA and JBOSS

IBM acquired Gluecode Software, an open-source application infrastructure company that sells software, services and support on top of the Geronimo J2EE application server from the Apache Software Foundation.

With this acquisition, Big Blue became an active contributor to the Geronimo project. But IBM had already bet big on open source. IBM participates in and contributes to many open-source projects, has invested millions in Linux and launched the enormously popular Eclipse framework.

Founded in 2001, Gluecode offers an integrated, Apache-based open-source stack that comprises an app server (Apache Geronimo), JSP and servlet container, messaging, database (Apache Derby) and portal framework (Apache Pluto). Designed for developers that want to use it in a supported production environment, the Gluecode Standard Edition Java Application Platform also provides JDBC connectors, a comprehensive management console for configuration and control and optional clustering support.

This acquisition is likely to help IBM better compete with rivals BEA and JBOSS, says Ovum analyst Gary Barnett. "This deal could have a huge impact on the application server market," Barnett told AppTrends, "as IBM forces commoditization at the application server layer."

Although IBM's Websphere is based on its own J2EE application server, the value of Websphere lies in the many products that sit on top of it, Barnett says. He believes that, by adopting, or at least supporting, an open-source product, IBM will reap a number of benefits.

"Firstly, IBM's clients get choice," Barnett says. "They can start with the free application server, then move up to IBM's own product when their requirements for scalability or performance dictate. Secondly, IBM gets a new channel for the value-added services (integration, portal and support for service-oriented architectures) that WebSphere contains. Finally, by changing the economics of the application server market, IBM sends a clear message to competitors like BEA that it's keen to see the application server market consolidate and to get the players competing on the basis of higher-level services."

"This strategy plays extremely well for IBM, because BEA has nothing like the breadth and depth of services that IBM has in Websphere," Barnett adds.

Under the terms of the deal, Gluecode's 18 employees—some of whom are among the top developers on the Apache Geronimo application server—will join IBM's software group.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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