The move to open source its products could have implications for commercial vendors in the sector, such as Hewlett-Packard's Mercury Interactive and IBM's Rational Software division.
One one hand, it could be a strategic play against Mercury Interactive, which HP bought for $4.5 billion last July. On the other hand, according to one analyst, the move could just be a reactive mode by RadView to fend off competition from other open source providers of these software tools.
Ilan Kinerich, founder and chief strategy officer of RadView, is leading the effort to take WebLOAD, RadView's flagship product, into an open source business model. He is also a co-founder of Mercury Interactive.
RadView's WebLOAD currently boasts some 1,600 commercial deployments and was recently updated to version 8.0. WebLOAD version 8.0 expands RadView's feature set from just regular Web apps to Ajax applications with support for testing and authoring Ajax applications.
As part of the open source announcement, which internetnews.com obtained, RadView is expected to make WebLOAD available as a free download complete with source code. A new community Web site is expected to accompany the release as are additional extensions, services and commercial support.
A RadView spokesperson declined to comment on the pending announcement. The spokesperson did note, however, that RadView is looking to build a big testing ecosystem to take on Mercury.
451 Group analyst Raven Zachary has a bit of a different take. "I think RadView has probably been forced into this move by competition," he told internetnews.com. After all, many open source performance testing tools already exist on SourceForge.net and other open source software repositories.
"I think that WebLOAD's low end business has probably been eaten away by people that are going to SourceForge.net and grabbing a tool to scratch their itch," Zachary said, "as opposed to needing to go buy a six or seven-figure load testing tool set for Web testing."
Zachary said a lot of the smaller players in the sector have not been able to generate significant revenue from their wares. In his view, larger vendors that offer their tools in bundles and also enable large-scale implementations, such as Mercury, are the ones making money.
By going the open source route, RadView is looking for a disruptive play that will help to transition its business approach. "Open sourcing WebLOAD is an opportunity to have a much larger user base, which they can then monetize as customers and then maybe move up stack," Zachary said.
By going the open source route RadView could well help its development efforts as well. RadView's choice of the GPL (define) open source license is also notable.
Zachary, who recently wrote a research report that called the GPL the number one choice for vendors that are moving from proprietary to open, said vendors are choosing the GPL because it's a known quantity and the user community is familiar with it. It also helps to protect commercial interests.
"While it's still possible to fork and to do commercial re-use it's much more difficult than with Apache or BSD licenses where there is no requirement of giving code back to the main tree," Zachary said. "With the GPL if someone were to fork WebLOAD and build a commercial company on top, the fork would be required to give back all the innovation to RadWare."