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Tuesday, May 10, 2005

IBM continues to strengthen its OSS-friendly image

This morning IBM announced the acquisition of Gluecode Software an open source application infrastructure company based in El Segundo, CA. Gluecode was founded in 2003 and received $5 million in March of 2004.

With this move, IBM solidifies its position as the leading supporter of open source software. IBM is a solid contributor to Linux with hundreds of developers on staff working on the open source operating system; it also backed the Apache Web server project and recently donated its very popular IDE framework Eclipse to the open source community.

It's interesting to note that Gluecode sells support services for Apache's application server Geronimo which is at the heart of the Gluecode stack. IBM's answer to the concern over the overlap between Geronimo and WebSphere is that Gluecode and Geronimo are not competition; they are door openers to enter new markets (companies or departments with less than 1000 employees) for which WebSphere is too big, too sophisticated and costly. "This widens our market," said Steven Mills, IBM's SVP for software. "Some customers may later move up to WebSphere if they choose to go in that direction." Chet Kapoor who joined Gluecode from BEA where he was the executive in charge of Quicksilver said: "We're very complementary to the strategy that WebSphere has now. They sell software at the high end, and we have a support and subscription business model for small and medium-sized businesses and departmental projects in big companies." Kapoor's career as a CEO will have lasted a couple of days as the news was announced on May 6, 2005.

A couple of random thoughts that I would like to get your opinion on:

- BEA continues to loose key people and struggles to find adjacent markets where they can grow, and my personal opinion is that they will go belly up unless somebody picks them up (Oracle maybe?)

- Did IBM (or the WebSphere group) feel too much heat in the SMB market from JBoss and decided to gobble up a start up to hurt JBoss by making Geronimo better and more popular?

- How important was Chet Kapoor in IBM's decision to acquire Gluecode? Chet knows so much about BEA and BEA's products (still today WebSphere's main competitor).

- This is great news for start-ups like Spikesource which is pretty much in the same business (now validated by IBM's acquisition) as Gluecode: providing enterprise service and test suites for open source stacks. Who will pick up this young Kleiner backed start-up? BTW, who's going to acquire Orbeon?

Please share your thoughts.

[Update:] Gartner published a research on this acquistion called Offense Is the Best Defense: IBM Leads Users to Open Source.

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