IBM will release a plug-in next week for its WebSphere Studio development environment that will allow customers to test and deploy applications on BEA Systems' WebLogic Server application server software.
The plug-in would be announced at IBM's developerWorks Live show in New Orleans and would be made available for download on April 10 from IBM's developer site, director of IBM's WebSphere Studio group, Bernie Spang, said.
Some businesses had mixed application server environments and IBM wanted to provide those developers with additional choices as to which development environments they could work with, he said.
WebSphere Studio already could be used to create applications for the open-source Apache Tomcat application server, he said.
"The primary motivation is to make our customers happy and to make their development teams and their development processes more streamlined and more efficient," Spang said. "We want to broaden the platform choices they have."
Another goal was to try to eat into the customer base of BEA, its chief rival, by making it easier for those customers to standardise on IBM's WebSphere products should they wish to, an analyst with Forrester Research, Ted Schadler, said.
Customers who have unused CPU (central processing unit) licenses for BEA's WebLogic Server would be able to build applications for those Servers even if their developers were using, primarily, IBM WebSphere Studio, he said.
However, Schadler said: "It's hard to be successful in the market with these replacement strategies. People aren't going to say, 'Now I can code in WebSphere Studio and deploy on WebLogic, my day is saved.' But for people who have a commitment to WebLogic but whose corporate standard is becoming WebSphere, it may be attractive to those people."
"There's certainly an element of this that assists with migration," Spang said, although he argued that this was not IBM's chief goal.
The first version of the plug-in would be available for Microsoft's Windows NT, Windows XP and Windows 2000 operating systems, with support for Linux distributions from Red Hat and SuSE Linux planned for later in the year, he said.
The plug-in is free for WebSphere customers and works with WebLogic versions 6.1 and 7.0.
BEA welcomed the move, calling it a testament to BEA's traction in the market and evidence that customers were asking IBM to support its WebLogic software.