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8/6/2004
08:29 PM
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Open-Source App Server Picks Up Novell Support

Novell will package JBoss with its SuSE Linux product.

Novell, which bought the German company SuSE Linux AG earlier this year, is bundling the open-source JBoss Java application server with its enterprise edition of Linux and will provide technical support for it. The move reinforces JBoss' already rapid uptake in the application server market.

It has appeared for the first time on market research company IDC's survey of best-selling application server products. JBoss' deal with Novell means a larger support organization than JBoss' own now backs its product. The addition of JBoss to Novell's Enterprise Server 9 release of SuSE Linux this week means Novell is "taking Linux to the next level as a mission-critical data-center platform," said Chris Stone, Novell vice chairman, at the LinuxWorld trade show in San Francisco this week.

The Novell-JBoss pact could spell trouble for Linux distributor Red Hat Inc. as it launches its own open-source application server, a move announced this week. In launching its own application server, Red Hat may face an uphill slope. IDC analyst Dennis Byron in a June report said JBoss had estimated revenue of $2 million in 2003. That puts it in fifth place in the fastest-growing segment of the market, servers in North America running Linux. The market leader is BEA Systems Inc.

The moves also illustrate what industry watchers see as the rapid commoditization of the Java application server market. Sun Microsystems' extensive battery of Java-certification tests once kept the market small, but more companies are willing to get certified, bringing more products onto the market. JBoss Inc. decided it needed the certification and ponied up $500,000 for the battery of thousands of tests, JBoss CEO Marc Fleury said. He said in late July that JBoss had passed them, leading to the first certified open-source application server.

Paul Cormier, executive VP for engineering at Red Hat, said this week his firm is pursuing Java 2 Enterprise Edition certification as well. The vendors of commercial application servers so far see the growth of open-source products as a plus.

Meanwhile, the Apache Software Foundation, developer of the Apache Web server, has a Geronimo application server project founded by Dain Sundstrom and Jeremy Boynes, both former JBoss employees. Winston Damarillo, CEO of Gluecode Software Inc., a firm that sells a suite of open-source code, says it will offer the Geronimo Java application server as soon as it's available. No date has been specified. The code from the project is still in a pre-alpha test or incomplete form, according to information at www.Apache.org.

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