1 June 2004 The challenge of open source software has prompted fresh but differing responses from Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Sun Microsystems.
HP claims to be the first major computer company to start offering technical support for JBoss, the open source Java-based application server, and MySQL, the most popular open source database. Both products will join HP’s partner programme and co-operate with testing, engineering and customer support.
In contrast, Sun is going on the defensive against the challenge from Linux to the server operating system market, even suggesting that it will give away hardware for free with purchases of its proprietary Unix-based Solaris operating system.
Sun is moving to a subscription-based pricing model in an attempt to tackle open source at what many see as its strongest selling point: cost. “My belief is that in five years, customers will no longer be paying for hardware — it will be free” Jonathan Schwartz, Sun’s president and chief operating officer, told the Wall Street Journal.
Both Sun and HP are looking to use open source to challenge the dominance of IBM, which resells Red Hat Linux and its own proprietary middleware software. IBM WebSphere has about a one-third share of the Java application server market, far ahead of Sun. HP, meanwhile, has no application server offering after botching its 2001 acquisition of Bluestone.
But neither company can claim to be wholly committed one way or the other on open source. Sun has just released the latest version of its Linux-based desktop operating system, which it confusingly calls Java Desktop System, while HP has said it will not push MySQL or JBoss ahead of middleware offerings from BEA and Oracle that it resells.