After Red Hat purchased JBoss and created an integrated offering with Linux and a commercial-grade open-source Java EE app server, it was only a matter of time before Novell did the same. The answer has a singularly uncatchy name of “Integrated Stack for SUSE Linux Enterprise,” and launched this week out of a Novell partnership with IBM.

The Integrated Stack combines IBM hardware (such as blade servers or standard x86 boxes) with SUSE Linux, WebSphere App Server Community Edition, DB2 Express-C, and the Centeris Likewise management suite (which I’m not very familiar with). The system is sold by both Novell and IBM.

Red Hat, by contrast, offers several versions of its Red Hat Application Stack, with Red Hat Enterprise Linux, JBoss App Server, JBoss Hibernate, MySQL and PostgreSQL, and the Apache Web Server. No management tools.

The Novell/IBM pricing starts lower than Red Hat’s, at $349/year for the software. It’s unclear how much support Novell/IBM provide at the entry-level price point. Red Hat charges from $1,999 to $8,499, depending on the number of CPUs in the server, and the desired level of support services.

Sun has a comparable open-source stack, which can be run on Linux or Solaris. The Solaris Enterprise System, which consists mainly of Sun’s own software plus the PostgreSQL database, is a strong offering that doesn’t get as much exposure as it deserves. That’s largely because the tightly controlled Solaris operating system isn’t as popular with the “Anyone But Microsoft” crowd as Linux. Watch for the new Sun Java Composite Application Platform Suite, coming soon.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick