IBM Tuesday said it has renewed ts commitment to open source with an acquisition that will add to its WebSphere line.

Big Blue will buy El Segundo, Calif.-based Gluecode Software

for an undisclosed amount. The company sells subscription-based software and support services for open source application infrastructure based on Apache Geronimo.

IBM’s Websphere suite, which includes an application server and portal technology, is geared towards enterprise customers, said Robert LeBlanc, general manager of application middleware. By buying Gluecode technology, IBM will be able to offer a lower-cost alternative.

“We do very well at the high end of the market,” said LeBlanc, a Canadian who was previously the general manager of IBM’s Tivoli division and started his career at IBM Canada as a programmer. “Now we’re extending our WebSphere reach down into the lower end of the market to really start to address requirements of developers, of departmental application developers, SMBs, and small ISVs.”

IBM will use Gluecode’s subscription-based model to sell the firm’s low-end WebSphere support software, said LeBlanc, allowing customers to start small at the beginning of a project, then add products as needed. Customers may wish to use these products as a stepping stone to the enterprise-level WebSphere line, he added.

Gluecode’s 18 employees will move over to IBM, including its CEO Chet Kapoor. Kapoor said he made a “couple of key bets” when GlueCode was in its start-up phase: that “J2EE was right for open source adoption” and that his products would best work on a subscription basis.

J2EE, or Java 2 Enterprise Edition, is the basis for the Apache Geronimo Web server, the underpinning of GlueCode’s product lines.

With the acquisition of GlueCode, LeBlanc said that IBM is “making a major commitment to Apache Geronimo as the open source application server of the future.”

Kapoor added that IBM has a track record of commitment to open source operating system Linux. “They’ve done it once very, very successfully with Linux. We hope and we think that this will be hugely successful in the J2EE space also,” he said.

LeBlanc said that fertile markets for a cheaper alternative to WebSphere include China, India and Brazil. “We don’t look at this (acquisition) as an experiment as we do changing market needs,” he said.

Novell Inc. announced an open source acquisition of its own Wednesday. The Provo, Utah, software company said it will buy Immunix Inc. for an undisclosed amount. Immunix is best known for its AppArmor product, a Linux-based product designed to guard against malware and other security threats.

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