IBM, Novell Square Off With MS, Red Hat in App Server Arena

IBM and Linux distributor Novell are strengthening their partnership in order to encourage cross-adoption of their respective platforms and products, especially in the small to medium-sized business space.

The companies hope to erode market share inroads recently gained by Microsoft and Red Hat with their Exchange software and JBoss application server tie-up.

IBM and Novell will develop an open collaboration client for Novell’s Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop, incorporating Lotus Notes groupware and Lotus Sametime instant messaging software, as well as other e-mail, calendar and word processing productivity tools.

Novell is also increasing support in its Suse Linux Enterprise Server for Notes, IBM’s desktop collaboration software, and for WAS CE, IBM’s open source WebSphere Application Server Community Edition. WAS CE is based on the Apache Geronimo application server.

Building on WAS CE

IBM and Novell made the announcement at the opening of the LinuxWorld/Next Generation Data Center trade show in San Francisco. The agreement follows the one millionth distribution of WAS CE.

This milestone for IBM’s open source-based application server “validates the fact that we’re meeting the needs of developers and businesses looking to embrace open source-based technologies,” said Tom Rosamilia, general manager, IBM application and integration middleware.

“The agreement with Novell allows us to take that success to the next level,” he added.

IBM is also introducing WAS CE 2.0, an update that will have Java Enterprise Edition 5 (Java EE 5) standard support. WAS CE gained share nearly three times as fast as JBoss.

Low-Cost Alternative

The end goal of the IBM-Novell alliance is to provide an enterprise-ready open source alternative to JBoss. At the same time, developers will have an opportunity to build on WAS CE, which is supported by both firms.

Bundling IBM’s open source WebSphere Application Server Community Edition software with Novell’s SuSE Linux Enterprise Server will likely accomplish these goals — but only at the margins, cautions Bernard Golden, CEO of Navica Software and author of Succeeding with Open Source.

“I think the people that will be best served by this agreement are those that use Notes on a Windows Desktop and want to consider a Linux desktop,” he told TechNewsWorld. “Will it take over the world? Probably not.”

That said, it is good tactical move, Golden added. “SuSE has been making a big push for the desktop, which is not an area in which Red Hat has been focused. It is a natural combination to push back against Microsoft and gain some leverage on Red Hat.”

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