IBM Ships Free Geronimo-Based J2EE for SMB

By mid-November, IBM is slated to ship a Geronimo-based J2EE app server, tuned for departmental IT staff, as well as small- and mid-sized businesses. IBM's Websphere Application Server - Community Edition, available for free, will bring together Apache's Geronimo, a Cloudscape database, connectivity drivers for Cloudscape and other DBs, and an enhanced UI. IDN speaks with an IBM exec to get a quick tour of WAS-CE, and learn more about the strategy behind it.

Tags: IBM, App Server, Geronimo, J2EE, Opens, Customer, Gluecode,

By mid-November, IBM is slated to ship a free J2EE app server, based on Apache's latest Open Source Geronimo app server, and tuned for departmental IT staff, as well as small- and mid-sized businesses.

IBM's Websphere Application Server - Community Edition, available for free, will bring together Apache's Geronimo, a Cloudscape database, connectivity drivers for Cloudscape and other DBs, and an enhanced UI.

"When IBM looks at Websphere, there's a picture that we has been concentrating at the high-end or midrange IT [department]," said Scott Cosby, IBM's Gluecode transition executive. "Making a light-weight J2EE option available opens doors for a customer to say, 'Wait a minute. I have Java skills in house, so why can't I use it here?"

WAS CE, brings together the ASF's J2EE-certified Geronimo app server, with technology from Gluecode (which IBM acquired last spring), as well as an easy-to-use UI, as well as IBM's Cloudscape database and

"Customers are looking for support for open source technologies from a trusted IT vendor," said Robert LeBlanc, general manager, WebSphere, IBM Software Group.

"WAS CE allows customers and partners to tap the innovation of open source technology -- backed by industry leading IBM support services -- to quickly develop and deploy applications based on open source technologies."

An Integration Developer News
interview with Scott Cosby,
Gluecode transition executive, IBM

IDN: Does IBM see WAS CE as an offering that is needed to push J2EE further into the small- and midsized-business (SMB) sector?
Cosby: It's a next step in this conversation. So, looking at the continuum…IBM acquired Gluecode 5 months ago, With WAS CE, we are bringing the [Gluecode] product family fully into IBM, and we are putting our brand on it. So, we are re-branding a new version of Gluecode SE as WAS CE. Under the covers, WAS CE is still mostly Gluecode, based on Apache Geronimo J2EE app server milestone 5.

IDN: So, is WAS CE an IBM distribution of Geronimo?
Cosby: In a way. We think of WAS CE as 90%-plus Geronimo, and we've glued in the IBM Java RT environment, the Cloudscape database and an improved UI. .

IDN: Is WAS CE the latest step by IBM to create an "open" J2EE stack, or a J2EE stack for small business? In other words, including pre-set add-ons that some users might need beyond just the core app server?
Cosby:: There is a lot of talk about a complete stack. We don't disregard it, but we're not there today. And, I'm not saying that we will, we're watching the market.

IDN: OK, so let's set the SMB stack question aside. What does WAS CE say about how IBM views the needs of SMBs interested in Java?
Cosby:: We see a segment of the market that has a high degree of Java skills, but they want easier, less expensive and a more "open" code base. All of these things will help them get going with J2EE much quicker. So, the way we've heard the SMB needs is " 'Give us the code, make it easier, and get out of the way.'

IDN: So how would IBM describe the needs and skills of their target customer for WAS CE? Is it J2EE cost, complexity or what?
Cosby:: We have several customer scenarios:
  • The first is the SMB with high Java skills who just wants to build an application that will meet their needs. They want to use in-house skills, but they don't want to spend high-dollars on their platform or they don't need high-end features like 59s [high availability].
  • A second profile is the medium/large customer departmental user. In many ways, these users, even though they may be part of a Fortune 1000 firm, has SMB-like needs. They want to build a very focused, quick application, and they need it quick, so they don't need a lot of complex features or they can't afford a drawn out procurement process.
  • A third type of customer is also among departmental users, those that has defined a very small, simple application, and once they define and build it, they now want to distribute it widely, such as a small add-in application for desktop of edge servers. The application can't have a high hardware footprint, so this opens the doors for not needing a lot of licenses.

    IDN: And what about other WAS CE components?
    Cosby:: We've got Apache Tomcat, AXIS, and a GUI interface console to manage the app server. Inside, we've also added the Cloudscape database and some database drivers for not just Cloudscape, but also MySQL, SQL Server and Oracle. We also support connectivity to J2EE-like artifacts, EJBs and so on. And, then we have enhanced documentation and testing.

    IDN: Why do you think WAS CE will be more attractive to these users rather than a heavy-weight J2EE?
    Cosby:: One element is because of Geronimo's GBeans architecture. That lets users support J2EE today and go beyond it later, rather than a structured J2EE app server. In other words, Geronimo offers a modular approach to the app server, so users can easily load or unload certain modules. Also, it's small. It is only 50 MBs as a download. That's why ISVs like it; because WAS CE has a small footprint and the ISVs customize it beyond that. So, if you don't need a full EJB architecture, you don't need to run that code.

    IDN: Geronimo was candid the documentation was not all it should be. Did IBM do some of it, and contribute to Open Source?
    Cosby:: I would expect some of the documentation with CE we will roll back into the Geronimo project if we can. If it improves Geronimo that's good for everybody. I know there is a Geronimo documentation team.

    IBM is making WAS CE available at no cost. Technical support is available from IBM starting at $900 per server for an annual subscription.