June 27, 2006 9:01 PM PDT

SourceLabs automates open-source support

Eyeing the multibillion-dollar software support business, SourceLabs has created an automated system for giving tech help to corporations that use open-source products.

On Wednesday, the 2-year-old company is expected to give details of the SourceLabs Continuous Support System, a set of software programs designed to speed up resolution of problems stemming from open-source Java middleware.

SourceLabs is one of a handful of companies dedicated to providing testing and certification services to businesses that use open-source software. Its products focus on open-source Java development software and a software "stack" composed of the Linux operating system, the MySQL database and the Apache Web server.

The Continuous Support System is meant to cut down on the phone calls a customer makes to SourceLabs for support. It is also expected to generate more thorough responses, CEO Byron Sebastian said.

The software can diagnose a problem and automatically notify customers and SourceLabs, he added.

SourceLabs intends to compile a database of information on known glitches and security issues, which will help support engineers pinpoint the cause of problems, he said. The database will gather information from clients who choose to participate, as well as from public sources.

Systems management products for locating application problems and updating software automatically are already on the market. But Sebastian said that SourceLabs' software is more functional and is tuned specifically for providing online support.

"From the customer's perspective, the biggest pain point is not getting updates--it's getting the system back up and running at 3 a.m.," Sebastian said.

He added that the software support business typically lacks competition and, as a result, service is mediocre.

"We're shining a light on a part of the industry that's been dormant for a couple of decades," Sebastian said.

SourceLabs' automated services will be offered as part of a subscription-based support contract.

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