Polese to support open-source combinations

Kim Polese, the woman who coined the term "Java," has found a new job. At the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco she will unveil...

Kim Polese, the woman who coined the term "Java", has found a new job. At the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco she will unveil a startup called SpikeSource that will provide enterprise support services for open-source software.

The 30-person company was founded in 2003 by chief technology officer Murugan Pal, formerly a consultant with SpikeSource investor Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, who was at one time a principal developer in Oracle's application server division.

Polese, a founder of software supplier Marimba, was hired as chief executive officer in the past few months.

The company will go live in December, testing, certifying and supporting a variety of "stacks" of open-source software tailored for enterprise customers, Polese said. "We are not a component, or product supplier. We're a services company. And we're supplier-independent," she said.

Although open-source software like the Apache server, MySQL database and the JBoss application server, is gaining wider acceptance in corporate environments, most open-source companies have focused on supporting specific projects, rather than combinations of software.

"Enterprise architects are faced with a huge assortment of open-source building materials. What works with what?" she asked. "Right now, figuring that out is up to the IT staff, and it takes a lot of time and effort. We save them that effort," she said.

SpikeSource's services will be similar to those being prepared by another venture-captial backed startup, SourceLabs, which was publicly announced last week.

"We're both clearly in the same new market," Polese said of SourceLabs. "That's a good thing. Competition makes markets."

SourceLabs plans to begin certifying and testing open-source software, as well as selling open-source support and maintenance subscriptions similar to those offered by Red Hat.

"There are companies starting to realise that this is an interesting space," said Brian Behlendorf, a founder of the Apache project.

Although open-source companies have tended to focus on supporting a single program, such as the MySQL database or the JBoss application server, there is a growing demand for suppliers who can assemble a variety of open-source technologies into a single stack of "known quantities", without being wedded to any one project, said Behlendorf.

"That's where this new breed of companies is different. They're not agnostic, but over time they can evolve. If a better open-source web server comes out, they can rip out Apache and put that in," he said.

Over the past year SpikeSource developers have popped up on discussion lists for a number of open-source projects, asking questions about software that could be used to manage a collection of open-source software, including OpenPKG software installation manager, the Ximian Red Carpet software management system.

Kleiner Perkins referred questions about SpikeSource to general partner Ray Lane, formerly president and chief operating officer of Oracle.

Robert McMillan writes for IDG News Service

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