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In another sign of shifting allegiances, Hewlett-Packard tomorrow will announce broad-based support for the popular MySQL database and JBoss application server.
Uppsala, Sweden-based MySQL pioneered a way to offer both open-source and commercial versions of its wares, in what some say is proof that the open-source model and profitability need not be mutually exclusive. JBoss, Atlanta,offers its software via an open source license but charges for maintenance and support.
HP's move, which will include certifying the use of MySQL's open-source database and the JBoss open-source application server on its servers, is seen as a countermeasure to IBM's three-year-old noisy Linux push. That Armonk, N.Y. computer giant has pledged allegiance, and big marketing dollars, to open-source as a way to thwart the spread of Microsoft's software stack in customer accounts.
IBM is positioning Linux as a viable competitor to Windows -- and Unix -- in business accounts. But, it has been loathe to offer a similarly public endorsement of Linux or open-source software that competes with its own DB2- and WebSphere-branded database and application server, observers said.
HP can use its new allies to wrest enterprise and SMB deals away from IBM with two software offerings that have huge buzz in the market. Even solution providers offering Microsoft SQL Server, IBM DB2 and Oracle databases say MySQL is gaining credibility even in mission-critical applications. That, despite the fact, that the commercial database costs just $400 or so per server.
In fact the Linux database segment was by far the fastest growing part of the database market for the last calendar year, according to researcher IDC. (Of course it was growing from a much smaller base than Unix and Windows databases.)
HP's alignment with JBoss also could cause a competitive stir with BEA Systems, which competes fiercely with both IBM and JBoss Inc. in the J2EE application-server market. HP and BEA have a tight relationship to sell and deploy the BEA WebLogic software platform on HP servers. In fact, BEA's recent deal signing its first-ever U.S. distribution deal with Agilysys was mostly due to the fact that Agilysys carries the HP hardware line.
Also an ally of Microsoft, HP has to weigh its "coopetitive" stance carefully. The company has recently shown notable independence from its colleague, announcing joint deals with Microsoft competitors including one with Apple Computer in January on an HP-branded iPod. This spring, HP said it was teaming with Novell to offer the SUSE Linux desktop on select HP and Compaq machines.
Microsoft clearly views Linux specifically, and open-source software generally, as a threat to its market-leading Windows operating system. (See story.) HP's divided loyalties show how nervous Microsoft makes even its largest partners.
Sources confirmed the HP-JBoss-MySQL deal, but would not comment on the record.
In January, JBoss and MySQL, which share many joint accounts, agreed to collaborate on marketing their respective products together. (See CRN.)
Elizabeth Montalbano contributed to this article.