BEA blends open-source and proprietary in long-term move

That way, legal and support concerns surrounding open-source are dealth with, says BEA VP

A “blended approach”, combining open-source and proprietary software, is the economical and safe route to go to get application development done “securely” and on time, says Bill Roth, vice-president of BEA’s Workshop development environment business unit.

Roth was speaking at a meeting for industry analysts and the media held in Sydney recently.

This blended approach helps deal with the legal and support concerns that go with using open-source software, says Roth. He added that the combination of open-source and proprietary ingredients contained in BEA’s offerings was part of the company’s long-term strategy.

BEA is involved with various open-source communities and uses these communities’ products in the software solutions it offers its customers. If the work has already been done, and the software is stable and functional, there is no point in pressuring the client to use a proprietary equivalent, says Roth.

BEA has been a member of the Eclipse open source consortium for more than a year and gives away its Workshop development framework. Earlier this year, it announced support for the Spring Java development framework. It also uses some open source code in its Weblogic suite.

The company’s future developments in the so-called rich-tooling space (development tools with a non web-based interface) will happen under the Eclipse umbrella, says Roth.

Answering questions about how vulnerable the use of open-source made its users, Roth said BEA would indemnify users against any intellectual property claims from supposed originators of code used in BEA open-source -products.

“We do not make a distinction between BEA and open-source software in that regard,” he says. “And, as far as I know, we’re the only vendor that says that.”

Many BEA customers who want to use a related open-source product request it through BEA rather than the original developer community, because they trust that all the links to BEA’s software will work properly, says Roth.

BEA will not use any software carrying a GPL or LGPL licence as part of its own products, he says. Such software is not advisable when it comes to commercial endeavours because of the “infectious” nature of the licence. A more restrictive licence, such as Mozilla PL or Apache, is safer, he says. The company will, however, provide applications carrying GPL or LGPL licences to its customers, but displays prominent warnings of possible intellectual -property vulnerability.

Answering questions about whether BEA is cutting into its own market by promoting open-source software, Roth said this could be a temporary situation. As users’ needs grow they may migrate from basic open-source to a parallel BEA product.

Bell travelled to Sydney courtesy of BEA

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