The former head of Microsoft Corp’s Windows business has given his financial backing to SourceLabs Inc, a new open source support and services firm set up by former executives at BEA Systems Inc.
Seattle, Washington-based SourceLabs has been set up with the mission of delivering dependable open source systems providing certification and testing, as well as support and maintenance services across a range of open source projects.
SourceLabs was founded by CEO, Byron Sebastian, the former vice president of the WebLogic Portal and Workshop Divisions at San Jose, California-based application server and development tool vendor BEA.
He has been joined by chief architect, Will Pugh, formerly the principal technologist at BEA working on open source strategy, and VP of sales and marketing Cornelius Willis, formerly the VP of developer marketing at BEA.
Willis recently led the launch of the Beehive project to open source BEA’s WebLogic Workshop’s controls, JWS files, Java Page Flows, and XML Beans technologies. Former BEA chief architect and senior vice president of advanced development Adam Bosworth, now the VP of engineering for Google, is also in as an adviser to SourceLabs.
The company has been set up with the financial backing of venture capital firms Ignition Partners and Index Ventures, which have invested $3.5m in Series A funding. Ignition founder Brad Silverberg and Index partner Danny Rimer have joined the SourceLabs board.
Index Ventures has previously invested in open source database vendor MySQL AB and PHP web application platform and services provider Zend Technology Inc, while Silverberg is the former Microsoft executive responsible for turning the Windows business from $50m to over $3bn in five years.
Silverberg recently claimed Microsoft is struggling to compete with open source on price, stating that Microsoft must demonstrate it offers better total cost of ownership to justify the higher price of its infrastructure software.
It is not clear at this stage what open source projects SourceLabs will be working on, but it is evidently focused on providing high-value support to enterprise organizations.
Customers have been forced to make a devil’s bargain: be locked in to proprietary technology, or assemble, test, integrate and support their own open source systems, reads the company’s plan. There are many excellent open source projects and products. Open source components are rock solid. What’s missing is dependable, integrated systems. It doesn’t have to be this way, and customers deserve better.
SourceLabs does promise to be technology agnostic, and pre-assemble and test infrastructure solutions for customers, providing a single point of contact should something go wrong. It will begin selling support and maintenance subscriptions on integrated open source stacks in early 2005, including web-based knowledge centers, configuration services, domain expertise, and resolution of mission-critical problems.
It’s not the first time that a company has attempted to ride the open source wave by providing support and maintenance services. LinuxCare Inc was set up in 1999 to offer just that for the Linux operating system and associated open source technologies.
Rapid growth saw the company aiming for an initial public offering in April 2001 but the offering was canned at the last minute as the markets went cold on Linux stocks, and from there the company stumbled from one problem to the next, with its acquisition by TurboLinux Inc falling apart less than three months after it closed. The company re-emerged in 2002 as a mainframe Linux provisioning and change management software provider, and in May 2004 renamed itself Levanta Inc.
SourceLabs will be hoping it fares better than LinuxCare, and certainly since the days when LinuxCare enjoyed its first success the open source market has grown and matured, with many more projects on the market, a much greater level of functionality available, and improved interest in open source among enterprises.