Start-ups aim to make open source more potable for big businesses

Making open source a more viable tool for businesses is the focus of a several start-ups that have come on the scene recently.

One company is SoureLabs, which was founded by three former BEA executives and is funded by venture capital firm Ignition Partners. The company's aim is to help open source-minded businesses go beyond the Linux operating system and take advantage of the 20,000 or so open source software projects that are available on the Internet. While a thriving industry has evolved around supporting and neatening-up Linux, Apache and a few other open source projects, support for other software packages is small, the company says.

SourceLab plans to offer services for certifying and testing open source software packages for businesses, and offer technical support for theses applications based on a subscription service model, similar to Red Hat. SourceLab will start offering its services in 2005.

The Wall Street Journal last week reported on another open source start-up called SpikeSource, which is backed by venture capital powerhouse Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers. The company is headed by CEO Kim Polese, founder of Marimba. (She was a featured speaker at last week's edgy Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco.)

According to the Wall Street Journal, SpikeSource plans to sell technology that will help businesses compile and streamline the millions of lines of open source code that is available and mold the software into usable business applications. Not many details are known about the closely-held company, but the firm is reportedly in the testing phase of its products.

Earlier this year, start-up Black Duck Software introduced its first product - a tool that helps businesses review potentially-conflicting licensing restrictions on open source software. The company's protexIP/Development software analyzes and compares more than 120 open source licenses, such as the GNU General Public License used and the Apache Software License.

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