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Integrating Gluecode into WebSphere line an easier merge for IBM than Domino

Buying Gluecode will bolster IBM's SMB focus with a low-end app server. But adding Java skills and absorbing WebSphere price points may be hard for Domino development managers.

There was big news in middleware last week ... about a little company.

IBM acquired four-year-old Gluecode Software, in order to gain a commercial version of the Java-based Apache Geronimo application server, with related software and services. The move is seen as bolstering IBM's focus on small and midsized businesses (SMBs)

It may be too early to predict what effect the move will have on Lotus shops. But it's worth recalling that Lotus folks were rightly concerned when IBM first started touting WebSphere as the solution to most middleware problems, apparently overlooking the merit of the Domino server. Since then IBM has done a better job of rolling out a roadmap for the co-existence of Domino and WebSphere, but the move to add Java skills and absorb WebSphere price points will not be not an easy one for many Domino development managers.

There are plenty of developers who are getting their Java chops using open source app servers such as JBoss rather than WebSphere, and IBM evidently concedes that with its latest move. Site Editor Jack Vaughan and I talked with Steve Garone, vice president and senior analyst of Ideas International Ltd., a research and advisory firm based in Port Chester, N.Y., to get a fuller picture of what the acquisition means to the Lotus community.

IBM has already acknowledged the importance of open source software through putting Linux on its servers, offering Derby (the Java RDBMS originally known as Cloudscape), and donating open source code to the Eclipse Foundation. However, although open source is in the process of leaving the realm of pure J2EE development and moving into the production environment, Garone suggests it still has some evolving to do before it is something the enterprise feels truly comfortable with -- the warm, fuzzy notion of software with support.

And that, Garone notes, is what Gluecode offered – open source software with three different support levels. In the grand scheme of things, he said, IBM will use Apache Geronimo to fill out the very low end of the WebSphere line. There may be some code compatibility issues up and down the product line, but, Garone said, "Integrating Gluecode capabilities into the WebSphere line will be a lot easier for IBM than it was to integrate Domino, which was a unique technology. Integrating a J2EE app server like Gluecode will be a much simpler integration task."

Some users have expressed concern that support for Gluecode will at some point be delivered by IBM Global Services, but Garone notes that IBM has reassured them that it intends to keep that support within the WebSphere group.

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