JBoss Group, the creator of JBoss, an open-source J2EE application server, is to offer indemnification for users who buy its production support packages.
Those customers will be protected from threatened or pending legal action if JBoss is accused of infringing any valid copyrights or patents.
"Indemnification in general, is a pretty standard clause for software, and customers who buy from proprietary vendors have come to expect indemnification," explained Marc Fleury, president, chief executive officer and founder of JBoss.
"We have an open-source product but we are of the school of thought that open source should be the safe choice for enterprises, and part of making it the safe choice is minimising the risk for the decision-makers and offering indemnification."
JBoss offers a free version of its Java application server for download from its website and a production version, which includes support seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Support has been available since October.
The open-source application server has been downloaded four million times in the past two years, Fleury said. Its biggest competitors are IBM’s WebSphere and BEA Systems' WebLogic.
Shawn Willett, principal analyst, application infrastructure and Internet commerce at Current Analysis, said this is JBoss’s way of showing it is serious about getting some big corporate accounts. JBoss does not have the big-name support that Linux has, and needs to do everything it can to take away any objections enterprises might have against JBoss and open-source software.
Both Willett and JBoss’s Fleury agree that The SCO Group’s lawsuit against IBM and its subsequent aggressive moves towards Linux users has caused fear, uncertainty and doubt in the enterprise, and potential customers need to know that open source is safe.
Willett said it is highly unlikely JBoss or its customers would be sued, but since J2EE is an open specification it is always murky about who owns what.
JBoss has recently been concerned about some patent infringements involving Geronimo, a J2EE project spearheaded by the Apache Software Foundation. Earlier in November JBoss sent a letter to Apache alleging there are elements of Geronimo that are derivative works of JBoss.
Fleury said JBoss spent time going through the source code at Apache and found troubling similarities, and sent a letter. He would not comment on Apache’s response, but there is no lawsuit under way.
Rebecca Reid writes for ITWorldCanada