IBM has announced a new support program for its Eclipse open source tools.

Marketing VP Scott Hebner said it would provide commercial-level technical support to developers who are building applications using Eclipse, and is based on a growing awareness by IT managers of the popularity of Eclipse among developers. IBM is the driving force behind Eclipse.

"There are individual developers that are using open source-based tooling they download off the Web," he said. "That does not necessarily mean they have any enterprise-class support to go along with it. The new program will help the managers of that effort have a more unified approach to ensuring value is extracted from the software development cycle."

IBM also announced several new Eclipse development tools. Later this month, it will offer a beta version of its IBM Lotus Designer, a rapid application tool for building components that run in WebSphere Portal 6.0. And by mid-October, it will release beta versions of IBM Rational Software Architect and IBM Rational Functional Tester with support for Eclipse 3.2.