by CIO Staff

Intel Capital Invests in Open-Source Middleware Startup

Jun 08, 20063 mins
Enterprise Applications

Open-source Web services startup WS02 Thursday officially announced its first software, Tungsten, and a key investor, Intel’s venture capital arm.

Intel Capital has made a series of investments in open-source players, including contributing to database company MySQL’s Series C financing round in February and earlier investments in Zend Technologies and JBoss.

The chip giant’s venture capital arm is the sole Series A investor in WS02 to the tune of US$4 million, said Sanjiva Weerawarana, WS02 founder, chairman and chief executive officer.

WS02 is looking to compete with existing middleware players, notably JBoss in the open-source arena and IBM and BEA Systems in the proprietary space. The startup plans to release a series of open-source middleware products, with the first of those being Tungsten, an application server based on Apache Axis2 Web services and integrating other Apache software projects. Pricing for Tungsten starts at $3,000 for a maximum of two servers.

Tungsten can be used as a standalone offering as an alternative to JBoss, IBM’s WebSphere or BEA’s AquaLogic, or as an overlay to those middleware products, Weerawarana said. So far, the initial version of Tungsten can be added to an Apache Tomcat or a JBoss Application Server to improve or extend their support for XML. In the future, WS02 plans overlays for AquaLogic and WebSphere.

The first release of Tungsten is a Java version, with a C release due out in August.

WS02 wants to offer middleware that “in its heart and gut is designed to support an entire SOA,” Weerawarana said. SOA, or service-oriented architecture, is a way to create and manage IT systems through reusable software and services.

JBoss, now owned by Linux distribution vendor Red Hat, has already dubbed itself the supplier of open-source middleware for building SOAs. “That’s like taking a pig and putting lipstick on it,” Weerawarana said, claiming that JBoss middleware is too tightly tied into Java and focused on customers’ internal application integration, not their external application integration needs as enabled by XML.

WS02 intends to set up hosting of its software within a week so that developers can try out Tungsten and future software and tools on its Oxygen Tank developer portal.

From WS02’s founding in August 2005, Weerawarana and his colleagues have run it on three continents, with the startup’s headquarters in Colombo, Sri Lanka, along with offices in Boston in the United States and Portsmouth in the United Kingdom. The company has 28 employees.

The company’s tagline is “oxygenating the Web services platform,” hence its name with the WS standing for Web services and the O2 for oxygen. The startup also looked to the periodic table of elements for inspiration on product names and came up with Tungsten, a metal with the symbol “W.”

Future products will be called after other metals beginning with T, Weerawarana said, hence Titanium and Tellurium. The company’s Titanium integration server/enterprise service bus should be available in the third quarter of this year, and the Tellurium server-side mashup platform is due out in the second quarter of 2007.

-China Martens, IDG News Service (Boston Bureau)

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