IBM to open source WebSphere Linux tools

Plans call for company's WebSphere Studio Workbench to be de facto industry standard for plug-in tools that work across Windows and Linux
Written by Peter Galli, Contributor on

IBM plans to open source its WebSphere Studio Workbench in the near future, Scott Handy, the director of Linux solutions marketing for the IBM Software Group, told eWEEK in an interview last week.

IBM announced the availability of the beta Workbench for Linux last week at its Solutions technical developers conference in San Francisco.

The Workbench, which is supported by IBM and 12 other tools vendors, including Versata, Peregine/Extricity and Rational Software, allows Linux software developers to integrate IBM's development tools with tools from other vendors and access them through a common interface.

"Once we get this product where we like it, we intend to open source it," Handy said. "The next big announcement will be the creation of an open-source project around this. The Workbench is never going to be an IBM product and is never going to be sold."

IBM wants it to become the "de facto industry standard to plug in tools that work across Windows and Linux, and that puts Linux on par as a tier one development platform, and we don't intend to do that alone," Handy said.

Stacey Quandt, an analyst at Giga Information Group, said the open sourcing of the toolbox would have definite business value, as creating a far richer Linux tool set would ultimately lower the cost of development and deployment on the Linux platform.

"Development and deployment on Windows is much cheaper because of the rich and wide-ranging tool sets available," Quandt said. "This move will encourage more developers to plug their tools into the Workbench and to develop on the Linux platform."

IBM's Handy said the Workbench went through a private beta for a select group of partners in May but has now been opened up to a full beta. Anyone can download the code and, when it is sufficiently advanced, it will be turned into an open-source project, he said.

This process would follow along the lines of IBM's other open-source initiatives, such as its Journaled File System technology that is licensed under the GNU General Public License and its Extensible Markup Language parser.

"When we talk about Linux, we talk about Linux for deployment -- you develop on Windows and deploy on Linux," Handy said. "Now we're saying we also want to make Linux a tier one development environment. The bridge that's going to get us there is going to be the WebSphere Studio Workbench."

IBM plans to first move all of the tools that developers plug into the Workbench into a shipping product on both Linux and Windows so that all the tools would work on both platforms.

"That then makes Linux an equivalent tier one development environment in addition to the fact that it's already been a tier one deployment environment," he said.

IBM announced earlier this week that it will be shipping by the end of the month WebSphere Studio Version 4, which allows users to convert existing Java software into Web-based services; in addition to that version, Handy said, there will be an upcoming release that plugs into the Workbench beta.

In regard to the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo in San Francisco later this month, IBM will be concentrating on promoting the concept that Linux is now ready for prime-time business applications.

The platform is gaining traction in this regard around four areas: the retail space, financial services, commerce and accounting. "This is not e-business infrastructure stuff; it's real business applications," Handy concluded.

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