Wednesday, October 26, 2005

WebSphere Community Edition

IBM recently announced a new member of the WebSphere product line called WebSphere Community Edition. What sets it apart is that it is a free download. Anybody who wants to use it can get it for free, play with it, build something with it, and prove their idea has value without ever having to pay IBM anything. If after proving to themselves the software developed on WebSphere Community Edition has value and they are afraid to go into production without support, they can then purchase one of three levels of support.

This WebSphere product concept sounds great for small companies and even "skunkworks" organizations inside big companies. They can try out something "under the radar" of all the bean counters. They never have to go beg anybody for funding for this software until they know they have proven their idea works! Then they can go into production without making any modifications to their code with IBM support behind them.

What does it mean to have IBM support behind a product based on open source software? As far as I can tell it means that if a bug is found by a customer paying support in the open-source components of WebSphere Community Edition (in this case Apache-Geronimo I think) then an IBM developer will address the problem, hopefully create a fix, and then this fix is contributed back into the open source world. Essentially, by buying support you ensure somebody is out their working the bug list with a sense of urgency.

The more I think about this, the more I think this is a great idea.

  • No cost of entry
  • Easy to try out and prove an idea works before begging for $$$ from the bean counters
  • Easy to abandon an idea without looking bad to the bean counters
  • When you're ready to go public and do real business, you get to sleep at night with IBM support behind that open source code.

I think this concept will sell!

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

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