IBM Gobbles Up Gluecode

IBM today announced it has acquired privately held Gluecode Software, an open-source software and support services provider whose product compliments Big Blue’s WebSphere application integration middleware portfolio.

Based on core open-source technology from the Apache Geronimo application server, Gluecode is designed to make application development easier by pre-integrating the most common services for building mainstream Java applications.

Analysts said the acquisition helps IBM compete with server rivals BEA Systems and JBoss. Financial terms of IBM’s latest acquisition were not disclosed.

Tapping Open Source

“IBM sees growing demand for a broad range of application integration middleware in the marketplace, including open standards-based and open source Java application server technology, especially amongst SMB and departmental users,” said Robert LeBlanc, general manager, Application and Integration Middleware, IBM Software Group.

LeBlanc said the Gluecode acquisition enables IBM customers and Business Partners to tap the low cost of entry of open source technology to quickly develop and deploy applications, and migrate to WebSphere software as business needs expand.

A recent Gartner report again positioned IBM as the number one application integration and middleware vendor based on license revenue in 2004. Gartner data showed IBM as the leading vendor across all key middleware areas including application servers, integration suites, portals and the composite application platform suite marketplace.

Winning Customers

Amy Wohl, an independent technology analyst in Narberth, Pa., told LinuxInsider that the Gluecode acquisition pushes Big Blue to the next level. “This acquisition puts IBM firmly on the way to an open-source business model that makes money by providing support,” she said. “There have been lots of people who have said that doesn’t work. I suspect IBM has analyzed this fairly well and figured out that it does work.”

IBM will allow its customers and Business Partners to download Gluecode application server software and start development and deployment at no cost, and then purchase software support services as needed from IBM. That, said Wohl, offers small- to mid-sized businesses an on-ramp that could lead to bigger and better things for IBM.

“IBM had a hole at the bottom of its application server strategy,” Wohl said. “This acquisition allows customers to develop relatively low-end applications. If you decide you need the functions and features of a higher end WebSphere server, IBM will be right there ready to port you up the line. I hear gnashing of teeth on the other coast.”

Big Blue’s Next Bet

What’s next in IBM’s acquisition strategy? Wohl said there are probably 10 parts of the company that are probably looking at 10 different possible kinds of acquisitions.

“I wouldn’t even try to guess which company is going to be next in line,” she said. “But I will tell you this: I think there are going to be a lot more acquisitions, both for IBM and the rest of the companies in this sector.”

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