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Collabnet Welcomes 'The Forge'

Enterprise software development collaboration vendor Collabnet is acquiring all the assets and intellectual property surrounding VA Software's SourceForge Enterprise Edition (SFEE) software. The deal does not include the popular SourceForge.net open source code repository, which is not powered by SFEE.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed though Collabnet will be bringing in VA Software's entire SFEE development team. The company expects that the deal will significantly enhance Collabnet's market presence and make it more competitive.

"We go from 100 to 300 users overnight; the combined entity has 1.1 million users; we have broader geographic coverage; and their sales and marketing channel don't overlap with ours," Bill Portelli, CEO of CollabNet, told internetnews.com. "Now also we have VA Software's 30 million eyeballs that we are now partners with, so this represents a lot of channel expansion."

In addition to the SFEE assets, Collabnet will be entering into a 30-month media relationship for online advertising services with VA Software, which owns a number of popular open source-oriented Web sites, including Sourceforge.net, Slashdot.org and NewsForge.com, plus the ThinkGeek.com retail site.

Portelli explained that he expects Collabnet will ultimately merge the SFEE product line and brand with Collabnet. In the short term, Collabnet has the right to use the SourceForge Enterprise trademark and brand for a multi-year period. "I believe that all of this gives us the opportunity to push our combined products faster into the market."

SFEE is a proprietary closed source product that is a complete and total rewrite of the open source code that powers the open source SourceForge.net code repository. SourceForge.net remains powered by an infrastructure that is different than SFEE. SFEE is based on J2EE architecture and includes a service oriented architecture with an open API (define) and SDK.

The original SF.net open source code still lives as open source in a number of projects, perhaps most notably in the Gforge effort, which was started by a former VA Software member.

Portelli noted that he has no plans to make SFEE an open source project, either. He argued that Gforge and other SF.net variants like it, though competitive in some ways to SFEE, actually help to grow the market.

"Gforge at a technical level does not have the same capabilities that Collabnet enterprise has or SFEE," Portelli said. "That said there is a space for it."

"They're very much making people aware of online distributed development and frankly we seen a number of clients coming to us saying they've outgrown their Gforge environment and now want enterprise class tools and support."

Raven Zachary, an analyst with 451 Group, told internetnews.com that VA Software is repositioning itself as a media company, focused on advertising revenue from its online properties, including SourceForge, Freshmeat, Slashdot. Linux.com, and Newsforge.

"Selling its SourceForge Enterprise business to CollabNet makes sense, and this move further strengthens CollabNet's position in the collaborative software development space."