IBM claims that the Apache model offers greater community collaboration that what JBoss offers, a claim that Red Hat disputes. Millions of dollars are at stake in the hotly-contested open source middleware market.
The new, free JBoss to Apache Geronimo migration tool is being donated by IBM to Apache. The tool will also work with IBM's WebSphere Community Edition, which is based on Apache Geronimo.
Paul Buck, director of IBM WebSphere open source software, explained to internetnews.com that what the migration tool does is automates the migrations of applications from JBoss to Geronimo.
In theory though, since both Geronimo and JBoss Application Server are J2EE-compliant servers, applications that run on one should run on the other. In practice that's not always the case.
"Applications that are written to the J2EE or JavaEE standard have a high degree of portability from one application to another," Buck said. "But there are areas like resource descriptors that tend to be app server unique and that is where the conversion tool helps."
Buck also took direct aim at JBoss' development model and argued that Apache is more open and truly collaborative.
"The Apache community model is based on diversity and promotes contribution and participation from anyone that wants to be active in the project not just employees of one particular company," Buck said.
Shaun Connolly, vice president of product management for the JBoss division at Red Hat (Quote), has a somewhat different viewpoint. Connolly argued that IBM's move is proof positive that JBoss is the platform to beat.
Connolly also argued that the JBoss licensing scheme is more open than the one used by Apache Geronimo. JBoss uses the LGPL (Lesser GNU General Public License), while Geronimo uses the Apache 2.0 open source license.
While both licenses are open source, the GPL is what is known as a reciprocal license requiring that any changes made to the source code need to be contributed back to the community. No such stipulation is required in the Apache 2.0 license.
"LGPL and GPL enable us to provide stability for the community that is building out the technology," Connolly told internetnews.com. "Customers want the platform they can bet their business on and not fragmentation or forks that come off of it."
The reciprocal nature of the GPL is why JBoss uses it. Connolly noted that the fact that changes come back into the community helps to drive forward the application and improve it.