SpikeSource, SourceLabs set to launch support products

Open source support companies SpikeSource and SourceLabs are set to announce new products over the next week.

The marketplace for open-source software support will heat up over the next week as two startup companies are expected to begin selling their first products designed to make it easier for enterprise customers to use code from popular open-source projects.

SourceLabs a 15-person startup based in Seattle, will announce its first product offering on Wednesday of this week, while SpikeSource, a San Francisco firm headed by Marimba founder Kim Polese is set to announce the general availability of its SpikeSource Core stack of open-source software on Tuesday of next week.

In addition to the official release of SpikeSource Core, the company will also announce "services related to the testing, certification and support of open source," and the names of "ISVs (independent software vendors) whose software has been certified on the Spike stack," the company said in a statement sent to media on Monday. The SpikeSource announcements are scheduled to occur next Tuesday at the Open Source Business Conference in San Francisco, a company spokeswoman confirmed.

SpikeSource Core is a distribution of more than 50 open source middleware components. The product includes software like the Apache Web Server, the JBoss application server, and the MySQL database. Customers can get support for SpikeSource Core on a number of Linux platforms, including Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3.0, Fedora Core 1, and Suse Linux 9.0, according to the company's Web site.

SpikeSource Core installs in about 10 minutes and includes support for six languages, including Java, Perl, and Python, the Web site says.

The 30 person company expects to partner with members of the open source community and has included representatives from organizations like the Mozilla project and MySQL AB on its advisory board. "They're even going to be giving away some of their standards services for commercial ISVs for free to qualified open source projects," the spokeswoman said of SpikeSource. "Giving back to the community is a big part of what they do."

The company offers three different support plans for customers which cover as few as 30 technical support incidents and offer a variety of different response times, depending on the plan purchased.

SourceLabs will announce the general availability of its first product on Wednesday, according to company co-founder Cornelius Willis. The company has said that it intends to sell support services for integrated stacks of open-source software.

SourceLabs uses a testing process it calls Cert7 to stress-test open source software and ensure the reliability of the company's open-source middleware. Cert7 uses testing methods similar to those used by enterprise software companies like BEA Systems and Sybase. "What we're trying to do is duplicate the testing process that enterprise software goes through," Willis said.

Unlike SpikeSource Core, the SourceLabs distribution is tested only on the Red Hat Linux operating system, he said.

Vendors like SpikeSource and SourceLabs may serve an important function by providing support for open source software that it not backed by well-known support providers like Novell or Red Hat, said Bob Igou, principal analyst for industry research firm Gartner Inc. "As Linux has expanded in the enterprise, there are more companies in the services world that are coming along and saying, 'We can offer the IT organization help with this,'" he said.

"They're taking on the technical support of a stack of components that are not their products," he said of SpikeSource. "But it's a set of things that they have tested. They have bounded their risks."

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