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IBM pitches its open source side

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IBM Tuesday set out its open source agenda at ApacheCon Europe 2000. The message seemed to boil down to the notion that in a networked world, open source is good and IBM not only knows that but embraces the open-source programming community.

"IBM applauds the accomplishments of open source Apache, which some say drives 66% of the Internet, perhaps even more," said Dr. Kristof Kloeckner, vice president business integration development in his keynote speech.

"Open source has been the power behind the Internet and open source is extremely important to IBM. E-business is IBM's future. Because of IBM's diversity, open source is good value to us," Kloeckner said.

Kloeckner went on to point out that IBM is active in the open source community, citing its work with Apache and the internationalization of Linux, as well as Big Blue's creation of the IBM Public License, which was developed "in consultation with the community," as Kloeckner put it.

Kloeckner also highlighted IBM's work with Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), an open standards-based interoperability protocol that uses XML to provide a common messaging format that can link together applications and services anywhere on the Internet regardless of operating system, object model or programming language.

"We donated our SOAP4J reference implementation," Kloeckner stressed. He also cited SOAP4J as one of the "significant contributions we've made to Apache."

IBM announced in September that together with Microsoft, it developed a language standard for the new Universal Description, Discovery and Integration (UDDI) business directory, which is designed to fuel business-to-business commerce. The standard, called Web Services Description Language (WSDL), is a mixture of IBM's Network Accessible Services Specification Language and Microsoft's SOAP contract language.

According to Kloeckner, IBM was also early to realize the importance of Linux.

"Linux supports multiple platforms and ... extends the open standard model to the operating system. We do embrace Linux and we support it in our hardware line. You see, the open standards movement in the form of operating systems is gaining steam and is successful," Kloeckner said.

IBM has donated technology, code and skills to the Linux community, Kloeckner said, citing the company's donation of the Logical Volume Manager and its Journaling File System.

"IBM's Linux strategy is very simple: support our customer's demand for Linux, support open standards and help customers deal with heterogeneity. Our involvement with open standards has helped others jump off of the fence," Kloeckner said.

Kloeckner predicted that in the future, the standard for Internet publishing will be WSDL, while SOAP will become the standard for binding and UDDI the standard for finding goods to purchase on the Internet.

IBM made no new announcements at the conference here, despite rumors on the exhibition floor. However, IBM exhibitor Ed Shapanka said that "news" was not the point of being at ApacheCon.

"This is a very targeted audience and we are trying to drive home the message that we are not just a 'corporation' anymore. Besides, in terms of anything new, it's all open source, so they know everything already," Shapanka said.

"Developers look at us and think 'corporation' and we want them to know that we embrace open source; an open kimono approach, so to speak. That was the reason for our keynote," Shapanka said.

ApacheCon Europe 2000, in London, runs from Oct. 23 to 25.

IBM, in Armonk, N.Y., can be reached at 914-499-1900 or at www.ibm.com/.

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