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Polese steps into open-source fray

Former Sun and Marimba executive Kim Polese takes the helm of SpikeSource, a start-up which will offer services around open-source software.

A figure from the Web's mid-1990s heyday is hoping to commercialize another grass-roots technology trend: open source.

Kim Polese, a former Sun Microsystems executive who was the original product manager for Java, is now at the helm of SpikeSource, an open-source software services company that launched on Thursday.

Another industry veteran, former Oracle president Ray Lane, will serve as the company's chairman. Lane is a partner at venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, an investor in SpikeSource.

SpikeSource plans to offer a range of services to corporations looking to use open-source software. Services will include support and product certification as well as consulting for corporate IT staff during the application development and installation process, according to the company.

By the end of the year, the company intends to launch a beta test of its services for the LAMP and LAMPJ "stacks" of open-source infrastructure software, according to the company's Web site.

LAMP refers to a commonly used combination of open-source components for building applications, including the Linux operating system, Apache Web server, MySQL database and development tools, such as Perl, PHP or Python. LAMPJ adds the JBoss Java application server.

The notion that drove the creation of SpikeSource is that corporate customers need to have reliable testing, certification and support for the thousands of open-source software components that are available. When businesses use a number of open-source components together, it is difficult to get support for the entire suite, according to SpikeSource.

"IT demands support, documentation, and extreme reliability, yet open-source projects rarely see the traditional rigor of software management," according to a statement on the company's Web site.

Polese left Sun in 1996 to found Marimba, a company that broadcast software updates automatically over company networks. She served as CEO at Marimba until 2000 and stepped down from its board last year. Marimba was acquired by BMC Software earlier this year.

SpikeSource appears to already have a competitor. Another group of industry veterans, including former Microsoft executives Brad Silverberg and Adam Bosworth, is backing SourceLab, which launched last week. The company intends to offer similar support and installation services around bundled open source components on a subscription basis.