IBM plans to offer support services for the Apache Software Foundation's Geronimo open-source Java application server starting Sept. 15, the company will announce at the Linuxworld Conference & Expo in San Francisco.
The services will be offered on a yearly subscription basis, but prices will not be disclosed until availability, said Chet Kapoor, vice president of Gluecode software at IBM.
IBM currently offers support services only for Gluecode SE (standard edition), a proprietary IBM application server that is built on parts of Geronimo with other technologies added on, he said. It hasn't offered services for the "plain vanilla" version of Geronimo that is freely available for download from Apache, he said.
"Customers are asking for two things," Kapoor said. "One is, they want to have the option to choose an open-source application server, and the other is, they want a support subscription model. So you can choose [IBM] WebSphere [application server], or you can choose an open-source application server [such as Geronimo]. We are adding value around Geronimo to give you support services whether you get it from us or Apache."
IBM's Gluecode group also plans to open source a management console for Geronimo, technology that previously was a proprietary part of Gluecode SE, Kapoor said. The company is donating the console -- which offers centralised administration for managing, monitoring and configuring the Geronimo application server -- to the Geronimo project within Apache, he said.
Since Atlanta-based JBoss' open-source Java application server found mass appeal several years ago, there has been a growing market for low-end application servers that don't have all the bells and whistles included in enterprise-scale offerings from IBM and BEA Systems, said Stephen O'Grady, a Denver-based senior analyst with RedMonk.
"There is a market of people who will never buy WebSphere [because] their needs are more modest," O'Grady said. "They need something they can download and quickly be productive with. That's a market, and JBoss has done a good job with that market."
IBM acquired Gluecode in May. By hitching its wagon to Geronimo through its acquisition of Gluecode, IBM not only adds credibility to Apache's alternative to JBoss, the company also positions itself to take advantage of the growing services opportunity around open-source software, O'Grady added.
Gluecode originally offered business process management (BPM) and portal software, but it was in the process of shifting its focus away from those products and toward application servers before the acquisition, Kapoor said.
This is contrary to published reports that IBM made Gluecode scale back its other products after the acquisition, he said.
"Nothing could be further from the truth," Kapoor said. "When I came on board [at Gluecode] in December, we realized that just being an open-source application server company, we had our hands full. We focused on that and stopped all development on [other software]. This strategy was well under way at Gluecode as an independent company."
Gluecode stopped selling its portal software earlier this year and donated some of its BPM technology to Agila, an incubation project within Apache, before Gluecode's purchase by IBM, he said.
Gluecode has multiplied its resources more than five times since the IBM acquisition, Kapoor said. When he joined the company, there were 18 people at Gluecode. There are now 100 within the Gluecode group at IBM, and the group is continuing to expand with more sales and engineering staff, he said.