HP boosts ties with JBoss, backs middleware suite

Hewlett-Packard Co. is extending its partnership with JBoss Inc. to support the open-source vendor’s entire suite of enterprise middleware, HP is due to announce Tuesday.

HP previously resold and supported JBoss Application Server worldwide. As of Tuesday, HP will resell and support the complete JBoss Enterprise Middleware Suite (JEMS) on a global basis, according to Christine Martino, vice president of open source and Linux at HP.

“This is a real enhancement to the relationship,” Martino said in a recent phone interview. HP will support all JEMS products on the Linux and Windows operating systems as well as its own flavor of Unix, HP-UX 11i. HP’s Linux support is for the two leading distributions of the open-source operating system from Red Hat Inc. and Novell Inc.

Under the terms of the deal, HP customers will have “one throat to choke” when it comes to JEMS support, consulting and integration services, Martino said. Having a company as large as HP supporting JBoss products gives customers a greater level of confidence when implementing open-source software. “Users have reached a comfort level with Linux,” Martino said. “They’re now looking at the middleware space.”

JEMS includes JBoss Application Server, Hibernate, JBoss Portal and JBoss Cache. The company positions its middleware against that provided by IBM Corp., BEA Systems Inc. and Oracle Corp. in the burgeoning market for tools to build service-oriented architectures (SOAs).

Under its Linux Reference Architecture (LRA) program, HP certifies components for an integrated software, services and hardware stack for Linux and open source. “LRA is a blueprint for how companies put together an integration strategy,” Martino said. JBoss Application Server was already part of that stack and, as of Tuesday, the JBoss software will also become a component of HP-UX 11i Open Source Reference Architectures for Web Services.

“We will build out different types of stacks for different customers,” Martino said. HP has more than 1,000 open-source partners, according to Martino, and intends to add in more certification of other open-source software to its LRA over time.

While HP has taken its relationship with JBoss to the next level, the company has yet to go the same route with its partnership with open-source database company MySQL AB. “We are not reselling MySQL to date,” Martino said. MySQL is also a component of HP’s LRA. HP first announced support for JBoss and MySQL in May 2004 when it unveiled partnership agreements with both open-source players on the same day.

In December, JBoss acquired transaction monitoring technology from HP and Arjuna Technologies Ltd.

Martino, a long-time HP executive, became the company’s open source and Linux vice president in November 2005. She hopes her strong business and operational background will work well in continuing to execute on HP’s existing open-source strategy. Her division acts as the “central point for knowledge about Linux and open source” within HP, she said.

The open-source and Linux division’s remit includes work on enabling Linux to run on HP Integrity servers as well as acting as a doorway to the external open-source community. Its staff number in the “low hundreds,” according to Martino, although she estimates that “thousands” of HP employees across the company are involved in some way with open source and Linux.

HP is keenly watching the development of the next version of the GNU general public license, GPL version 3, according to Martino. She was planning to attend the First International Conference for GPLv3, a two-day conference at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), running through Tuesday. The Free Software Foundation Inc. released the initial draft of GPL 3 Monday at the conference. GPL is the most popular license for distributing free and open-source software.

“We’re a big GPL proponent,” Martino said. “We’re the only major vendor who’s not seen the need to have our own license.” Her hope is that GPL 3 will help to unify the open-source community still further, she added.

In August 2005, Martino’s predecessor Martin Fink called on IBM and Sun Microsystems Inc. to abandon their own open-source licenses and back GPL. Fink warned of potential incompatibility issues arising from having too many open-source license types.

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