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LinuxWorld, San Francisco: "We View Cloudscape As Important As Eclipse," Says IBM

IBM contributes Cloudscape to Open Source, discusses Dual Source

IBM and the Apache Foundation announced that IBM is contributing the Cloudscape product it acquired from Informix to the Apache open source program. The project name for the effort will be "Derby." The contribution amounts to more than 500,000 lines of Java code. In related news IBM also clarified its Linux distribution strategy.

An IBM press release said that Derby will be "a Java-based relational database with a two megabyte footprint that is fully embeddable and requires zero administration support." In conversations with IBM executives, they repeatedly emphasized that Cloudscape/Derby is targeted at embedded database usage.

IBM already embeds Cloudscape in many of its Java products. "We have 100 Java products," said Scott Handy, IBM's director of world-wide Linux strategy and market development. The majority of those products already had Cloudscape embedded. This includes Tivoli, WebSphere, and IBM Workplace.

This is clearly viewed as an important move by IBM. "We view this as important as Eclipse," said Handy, referring to the wildly popular Java-based development environment.

The company views cloudscape as being useful in more general areas. "Web servers need a persistent store," said Handy. Many Apache sites are using Cloudscape competitor mySQL for this purpose. The link up between IBM and Apache on Derby could mean a huge distribution channel for the Cloudscape technology. Apache now runs more than 67% of the web servers on the web, according to web site survey from netcraft.com. What is not clear from the market data is how often web servers migrate to new versions of the web server. As a result, the effect of the Apache/IBM linkup may not be known for some time.

This announcement appears to be in response to the growing importance of mySQL. IBM's instance that Derby is focused on embedded applications is curious, since mySQL has recently made strides in handling very large databases, like the Democratic National Committee's 1.2 billion record voter information database. This may be an attempt by IBM to clearly delineate the IBM Cloudscape product and its DB2 product line.

Like Sun's OpenOffice.org, IBM intends to work product in an open source community, and then productize it. "We will take a snapshot for a commercial version," said Handy. Unlike Sun, IBM intends to make its productized version free. Sun changed its pricing model for StarOffice last year. IBM's intent is to offer fee-based support for the commercial version.

Analyst reviews of the announcement were mixed. "Cloudscape was a low-profile product and had not been selling," said Noel Yuhanna, senior database industry analyst, Giga Research. "This is to generate additional revenue from maintenance (revenue)." The real value to IBM is that Cloudscape provides a migration path to IBM DB2. "It will help with migration to DB2 database, said Yuhanna, "It is a leverage by IBM to help them with their DB2 strategy." The implication is that as the use of Cloudscape grows in an enterprise, IBM will have a chance to up-sell those customer who need to transition to an enterprise class database.

In related news, IBM attempted to clear up its Linux distribution strategy. There had been subtle indications that IBM was moving away from Red Hat and towards SuSe Linux as its preferred partner. Handy sought to dispel this notion "The strategy is two or more distributors in the market," implying a common multiple source strategy for key product components. "I think people misinterpreted our move to SuSE," said Handy. In its Derby press release IBM announced that it will support TurboLinux and Red Flag, the national Linux of China, as well.

This fuels the notion that IBM is taking a "path of least commitment" on Linux, while attempting to win more market share for its database product line.

More Stories By Bill Roth

Bill Roth is a Silicon Valley veteran with over 20 years in the industry. He has played numerous product marketing, product management and engineering roles at companies like BEA, Sun, Morgan Stanley, and EBay Enterprise. He was recently named one of the World's 30 Most Influential Cloud Bloggers.

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