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IBM lends heft to Apache Geronimo

As the market for open-source Java application servers heats up, Big Blue offers support services and code to the Apache project.

IBM will give a shot in the arm to the Apache Geronimo project--the basis for its Gluecode product line--by offering services and code to the open-source Java application server.

On Tuesday at the LinuxWorld conference in San Francisco, IBM is expected to announce that it will begin providing support services for Apache Geronimo and that it will submit a graphical administration tool to the open-source project. Application servers run applications written in Java, such as Web sites.

By backing Geronimo, IBM intends to give more validity to the software, which is still in the process of gaining full Java standards compliance. At this point, the product is primarily used by Java developers and a relatively small number of corporate customers.

Big Blue has a significant self-interest in making Geronimo widely used. In May, it bought a start-up called Gluecode, which has built its product around the Geronimo application server. The company packages the Geronimo application server with administration tools meant to make it easier to install and run the software.

"We're not making this investment out of the charity. We do think there is a (business) opportunity to provide this type of support," said Scott Cosby, the Gluecode Transition Executive at IBM Software Group. "But it will also have a real positive effect on Geronimo project."

The service, called IBM Support for Apache Geronimo, will offer two levels of service for Geronimo. The enhanced offering will include phone support by a named technician and a promise to reply within 12 hours.

The Gluecode Management Console, which has been accepted by Apache, is a graphical tool for monitoring and configuring the application server. IBM intends to continue making code contributions to the Apache project, Crosby said.

The number of open-source Java application servers is growing. JBoss' own has been in the marketplace for a few years, and it is creating a full suite of back-end Java middleware available through an open-source license.

The ObjectWeb Consortium has the Jonas application server, which Red Hat offers as part of its service offering. And Sun Microsystems has created the GlassFish project around the forthcoming edition of its Java System Application Server Platform Edition 9.