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IBM's Little DB Gets Big Help - InternetNews.
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IBM's Little DB Gets Big Help

Hot on the heels of its decision to donate its Java-based Cloudscape relational database application to the Apache Software Foundation (ASF), IBM has launched new resources for its site hosting database.

Officials have spent the past several weeks revamping the IBM developer site -- developerWorks -- for Cloudscape. Officials announced they would donate the source code to the Apache Software Foundation (ASF), which took over management of the open source project and named it Apache Derby Aug. 3.

The source code has quickly made its way onto the ASF site; officials released the code for public consumption Thursday, according to Brian Fitzpatrick, Apache's public relations chairman, which is available for download through, Subversion, an online collaboration system for software projects.

"The majority of the time between announcement and receipt of code was spent making sure that everyone had their legal ducks in a row, and a few more days were spent determining repository layout," he said.

Cloudscape and Derby will continue parallel, if separate, development tracks. IBM officials said they would continue developing features they want to see in Cloudscape, with code exchanges between the two periodically.

The Cloudscape makeover includes a scrubbing of its moderated online forum, which was originally hosted by the DB2 site, and moved over to the dedicated site Aug. 4. Also included on the site now are tutorials to tie Cloudscape inside Java -- tying the database with Apache Tomcat (the open source application server) and getting the right class path for Cloudscape implementation -- as well as a FAQ sheet and technical overview of Cloudscape.

IBM will also add online demonstrations, offline technical briefs, Cloudscape development roadmap (in 2005) and other interactive content. A Webcast with a question-and-answer period is scheduled for Sept. 8, and developers will be able to post code samples of their implementations on the developerWorks site.

It may seem odd that IBM is devoting so many resources and effort into a product that's being hosted at the ASF site, but Kathy Mandelstein, IBM developer relations program director, said there's a clear need.

"As far as Apache's structure, they're more focused on the project and being able to share code," she said. "We're trying to provide developer resources, just like we have done with Eclipse and Java and Linux to really be a place where [developers] can come get resources to help them with their development."

Taking commercial databases and donating them to the open source community is all the rage these days. A week before IBM announced the release of Cloudscape, Computer Associates announced it would donate code to its own database program, Ingres Relational Database, revision 3, under the CA Trusted Open Source License.

Unlike Cloudscape, which is meant for use on Web sites and embedded devices where size constraints are crucial, Ingres is a full-featured relational database more in line with IBM's own DB2. A day after IBM's announcement, CA further announced a cash incentive to get developers to beef up Ingres. The effort includes a $1 million developer challenge, with prizes up to $400,000 for five lucky recipients.

Both have commercial plans for their philanthropic efforts: CA will charge for support and indemnification, while IBM will use Cloudscape as a tie-in to the full-featured DB2. CA's got a tougher road to blaze, however, given the existence of other established open-source databases, notably MySQL and its more than five million users, as well as PostgreSQL.

IBM, on the other hand, does have some competition. On Aug. 10, Bellevue, Wash.-based ITTIA launched an embedded, open source database called db (pronounced DB Star); Sleepycat Software's BerkeleyDB has been around since 1996 and boasts customers like AOL, Amazon.com, Sun Microsystems and Hewlett-Packard.