Red Hat Inc.’s planned purchase of open-source middleware vendor JBoss Inc. could result in Red Hat partners such as IBM Corp. beginning or expanding relationships with other Linux distribution players, notably Novell Inc., analysts said this month.

“Novell will probably call IBM and say, ‘Let’s do something,’” said James Governor, analyst with RedMonk. “Maybe Debian will benefit and maybe IBM can show them some love.” Debian is another Linux distribution.

Governor sees IBM as the main party to be affected by the proposed Red Hat-JBoss tie-up announced on April 10. JBoss has made no secret of its antagonism for IBM’s rival middleware WebSphere and the analyst thinks that attitude is likely to continue.

Dana Gardner, principal analyst with Interarbor Solutions expects IBM to re-evaluate its relationship with Red Hat as well as taking another look at its own approach to open-source software. Creating a rival open-source stack running on Novell’s Suse Linux, IBM’s WebSphere Application Server Community Edition and some Eclipse tools could act as a counterbalance strategy to Red Hat/JBoss, he said.

Michael Goulde, senior analyst with Forrester Research, questions whether IBM will label the Red Hat-JBoss deal as truly posing a competitive threat. As open-source software grows in appeal among its customers, IBM needs to be seen to be more and more receptive to the technology. If the deal encourages more users to adopt service-oriented architecture (SOA), they’re going to need the kind of services and hardware which they could buy from IBM, he said.

Users should definitely benefit from the Red Hat purchase, according to Governor.

“Customers are already using JBoss to whack IBM and BEA over pricing,” he said. “If you’re a Red Hat customer and a WebSphere customer, you’ll probably have a very interesting conversation with your sales reps.”

As for the proposed deal itself, bringing JBoss and Red Hat together makes sense, according to Gardner. The move marks “something of a seismic shift in the open-source landscape,” he said. The combined company will be able to offer a “soup-to-nuts open-source stack” Gardner added.

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