Analysts say IBM's purchase of Gluecode Software is proof that Big Blue is taking its open source strategy into a new phase and seeking to better define the value of open source by filling in blank spots among tools and applications.
This new phase, said Hayward, Calif.-based Pund-IT Research principal analyst Charles King, is one that will require a conscious, serious effort on the part of IBM.
King said that the acquisition of the El Segundo, Calif.-based Gluecode, a privately held provider of software and support services for open source infrastructures, would be an example of such an effort -- at least to small and medium size businesses (SMBs).
"The Gluecode deal will not matter to everyone but should pique interest among Java application server developers," King said. "Overall, the acquisition should help IBM's open source efforts among SMB customers, allow it to compete more effectively against JBoss, and could also pay dividends by providing growing companies a natural stepping stone to IBM's WebSphere."
Jim Balderston, a principal analyst with the Union City, Calif.-based Sageza Group, agreed with King's analysis that the Gluecode deal will bolster the adoption of WebSphere amongst IBM's SMB customer base.
"IBM is positioning the Gluecode offering as a sort of Express version of its WebSphere Application Server Express, which costs more than all but the premium version of Gluecode's product," Balderston said.
IBM officials said that offering a free initial copy of the product was likely to put it in the hands of more developers working on smaller scale projects and would allow them to begin the process of developing on the J2EE platform and in an open source environment.
Additionally, the acquisition gives IBM the group of lead engineers behind the Apache Geronimo J2EE project. According to Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Research, IBM now challenges JBoss, BEA Systems and Oracle by endorsing the Geronimo project.
"As we have noted repeatedly, IBM's commitment to the SMB market is company-wide and substantially deep," Balderston said. "Adding Gluecode as a means to offer SMBs a less expensive and less complex means to begin building applications that can grow and mature along with an expanding IT ecosystem makes a great deal of sense."
The move also makes a lot of sense to IBM, which benefits from the natural upgrade path from WebSphere Express to full-featured WebSphere applications as developers build out applications on Gluecode.
Of the skeptics, Balderston said: "While some may argue that such paths will be taken only rarely, I believe the annual doubling of data retention being experienced these days, along with the complexity of regulations concerning that data, will force many companies to upgrade infrastructure with more and more sophisticated products."
IBM, he said, is providing developers and SMBs with an opportunity to get on that migratory path with a minimum of "muss and fuss" and in a way that gives those Gluecode users comfort that as they need to grow with a relative lack of pain.
This article originally appeared on SearchEnterpriseLinux, a sister site of SearchSMB.com.