XAware, a provider of commercial data integration software, has opted for the open source route after introducing the latest version of its product (XAware 5) under the GPL v2 licence.

XAware 5 is available as a free download through the open source community that XAware activated.

Data integration software takes data from a variety of structured or unstructured databases and makes it usable in a new format. This repurposing of the data is ideal for presenting it in new Web 2.0 applications or in corporate service-oriented architecture (SOA) environments.

XAware adopts XML for data integration. "We use XML in the middle as a way to map and transform data between existing data stores of any kind," says Bill Miller, XAware's chairman and CTO.

XAware bridges the gap between business processes and physical data access. Application developers use XAware Designer to create, test and deploy software that provides a business function by accessing a database. The suite also includes adapters that provide connectivity to a variety of database sources, including SQL, FTP, e-mail, Text, COBOL, Java and others.

XAware decided to open source the latest version of its commercial product because open source has become the preferred way for many software developers to work, says Miller.

"The kind of software that really flourishes in an open source environment is software whose users are developers and where there are a lot of them. And because they are developers, they can and want to contribute to what the product is and does," he says.

XAware 5 features the Eclipse-based XAware Designer: a drag-and-drop, wizard-based integrated development environment (IDE) that makes building an application easier.

XAware began as a proprietary software vendor four years ago, but this is its first foray into open source, Miller says. It has competed against established commercial vendors such as IBM, Tibco and BEA Systems, but that open source may become harder for those companies to ignore.

"Some of the bigger players may run on their momentum for a while but we think that open source products are going to certainly take a lot of wind out of their sails," he says.

While XAware 5 is available under an open source licence, it is also available with a commercial licence. With a commercial licence the buyer would not have to share code they write with the open source community.