Since Web services is based on open, accessible, and (allegedly) universally accepted standards, you'd think there would be more interplay between the Web services and open-source communities. But it hasn't really turned out that way yet. Commercial vendors are still trying to build workable revenue-producing models around tools and platforms that are supposed to make Web services accessible to the average Joe.
Well, it appears that BEA Systems has made overtures to the open-source folks, announcing that new updates to its Beehive component-based development environment are availablethrough the open-source Apache Software Foundation. Of course, it's in BEA's interest to provide freely available tools that will eventually end up on its WebLogic platform. What's interesting, though, is the fact that Apache Beehiveprojects will also be able to run on JOnAS, Apache Geronimo, andApache Tomcat servers.
Can enlightened self-interest drive Web services vendors into the open-source camp? Interestingly, open-source J2EEapplication servers such as JOnAS and Apache are a major threat to BEA's commercialbusiness model for WebLogic. Why pay megabucks for an app server that can acquired for free somewhere else? (See my previous blog on the open-source threat.) BEA's bet is thatadding solutions and code to the open source pool makes customers feelmore comfortable with the idea of investing in premium solutions. Nothing builds confidence more than knowing that there may be alternatives in the market if the primary supplier shifts course, or even goes out of business.
While BEA is still relatively new to the open-source scene, Cliff Schmidt, BEA's product manager of standards and open sourcestrategy, says the vendor plans to put some juice into the effort. The vendor'sapproach, he said in a recent interview,is not just to "throw code over the wall" to open-source bodies, butalso to support BEA engineers' involvement in open-source community. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, right?
For further reference, CNET's Martin LaMonica puts it all in perspective today with a very comprehensive overview of open-source solutions now emerging in the software space.