IBM boosts open source developers with $40m software gift

IBM has given $40m (£27.4m) worth of new software - for integrating application development tools from various vendors - to...

IBM has given $40m (£27.4m) worth of new software - for integrating application development tools from various vendors - to Eclipse, a newly formed open source development advocacy organisation.

The company handed over a Java-based workbench, essentially a derivative of its WebSphere Studio Workbench, to speed up the integration of software and development tools from multiple vendors.

"We have been working on this product for the past two years," said Henrik Hedeggard, IBM's director of application integration middleware, EMEA. "We had the choice of making it a standard IBM product or donating it to open source so it becomes a pervasive industry standard."

IBM has claimed that its Workbench offering will enable the 150 members of Eclipse to integrate their business processes to create new applications, especially those focused on the up-and-coming Web services space.

Hedeggard told that Eclipse would make a formal launch announcement in December. Other key supporters include Red Hat, Rational Software and Merant.

The organisation is still taking shape. Further details about the group, including the composition of its board of directors, will be available in late November, according to IBM.

The company is staking its future on open source and this new initiative will sharpen its battle with Microsoft for dominance in the Web Services sphere.

The Eclipse project grew out of several similar, collaborative initiatives between IBM and others in the industry.

Merant has been working for nine months with IBM on WebSphere Studio Workbench, said Merant's chief technology officer, Andrew Weiss. "We're a firm believer in this notion of enabling multiple best-of-breed tools to operate together," he said. Merant plans to build hooks into its products to allow them to interface with the Eclipse software layer.

Rational Software's senior vice-president of marketing, Eric Schurr, said his company was "committing to building our products on the Eclipse platform".

"For the analyst, tester or developer, being able to have a common workspace is a great thing," he continued. "The Eclipse shell provides a lot of flexibility and integration potential. You don't have to jump in and out of multiple products."

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