Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Eclipse Buzzes About Increasing Membership

Eclipse Buzzes About Increasing Membership
by Rita-Lyn Sanders

February 09, 2005 — Like bumblebees pollinating a flower garden, many companies have swarmed to join Eclipse since it gained its independence from IBM a year ago, pushing the Foundation's budget to about $1.5 million in 2004. Even more companies have begun building plug-ins for the Eclipse environment or have used the toolset to build applications.

In the past year, the Eclipse Foundation has welcomed 26 new companies, a 46 percent increase in membership, including a small but growing number of organizations in the iSeries world.

Just a few weeks ago, Aldon signed on, joining competitors SoftLanding Systems (which joined in September last year) and MKS, a member since September 2002. These vendors share their virtual development lab with iSeries brethren including ASC, Computer Associates, JBoss Inc., Novell, Oracle, Red Hat, SAP, and Teamstudio — not to mention IBM, whose WebSphere Development Studio Client (WDSc) is indisputably the most popular Eclipse plug-in in the iSeries world.

The Eclipse Foundation now counts 82 companies in its membership — nine strategic developers or consumers, 60 add-in providers, and 13 associate members. These companies provide the foundation's budget revenues, with strategic and add-in providers contributing money and often developers to the organization. Strategic member such as IBM and SAP contribute 0.12 percent of their annual revenues, up to $250,000 per year, while add-in providers such as the remaining iSeries participants contribute $5,000 per year.

So what do members get in return for their cash outlay? Plenty, say the three iSeries change-management vendors.

Aldon President and CEO Daniel Magid says his company decided "to take full advantage of the opportunities that Eclipse represents. It brings both vendors and customers the best environment they could ask for," because Eclipse provides a single-vendor solution, so to speak. That is, because many different kinds of tools plug in to the Eclipse development environment, customers can select the tools they want in their IT infrastructures.

Even though Eclipse is fairly young in its adoption cycle, Magid said the number of companies buzzing about Eclipse is increasing. He's starting to hear from more customers asking about the Eclipse capabilities in his products. And an increasing number of vendors offer solutions that enhance the flexibility of the Eclipse environment.

Being an Eclipse member means that these iSeries vendors will be in the middle of the action, says Dave Martin, MKS v.p. of product management, and they'll get the scoop on the hottest technological developments coming down the pike — and can also have a hand in developing them.

"Open-source communities tend to attract the best and brightest individuals," says SoftLanding Marketing Director Amy Lantz, "and they're very willing to share experiences and ideas and help each other solve problems. It's a very interactive, organic experience."

Open-source technology company JBoss Inc. also recently announced its membership. The company joined the ranks of add-in providers so that it could enable its customers to use both Eclipse tools and the JBoss open-source application server through plug-ins that support JBoss tags. "We see Eclipse as the emerging standard in the Java camp, so it's a natural move for us to embrace Eclipse and streamline the experiences of our own users," said Marc Fleury, the CEO of JBoss.

However, Eclipse adoption among iSeries vendors may be slower than in some other technology camps, Magid says, as many iSeries shops already use tools with which they have a high degree of comfort and productivity. "There is a lot of satisfaction with their existing environment," he said. "It makes it hard to get them to move to new things."

The vendors all agree that the big draw for the iSeries crowd is IBM's WebSphere Studio and the WDSc. Eclipse adoption may have been slowed, Lantz says, because "so many IT shops have been sidetracked by Sarbanes-Oxley. They're spending a lot of time on compliance, so they have less time to learn new technology."

Another factor is the lure of Microsoft's competing VisualStudio.NET, Martin says, which many shops have adopted as their preferred development platform. MKS itself also feels torn between the two camps, as it balances its Eclipse membership with its work to support customers who prefer the Redmond alternative. "We certainly don't want to be perceived as being Eclipse-only," he says. "We're reaching out to the .NET community and providing some support there as well. The danger is, if you're too heavily into the Eclipse camp, you tend to peg yourself as one-platform, and that's not always good for the customer."

As other companies learn the benefits of Eclipse like those who've already joined the organization, Eclipse supporters are certain the growth will continue. "Over the next 12 months we expect to experience a steady growth in the number of organizations joining Eclipse," says Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation. "As Eclipse expands its projects across the entire software development lifecycle, the benefits of joining the Eclipse Foundation are becoming important to more and more companies."

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