Hewlett Packard has extended technical support to two popular open-source software projects, giving both a huge boost in mainstream credibility.

The JBoss application server and MySQL database will both benefit from the company's official support, with HP staff trained to handle support calls from today.

HP has entered into partnership agreements with the JBoss Group and MySQL, said Martin Fink, HP's Linux VP. Under the deals, JBoss and MySQL will now be tested and certified for use on HP's ProLiant and Integrity servers via the HP Partner Program, he said. "We're the first OEM to sign partnership deals with MySQL and JBoss," Fink said.

The deal will make things a little easier for users in large companies who want to implement the two open-source products, and it will help expand the pool of open-source users, said MySQL user Alan Walker, VP of Sabre Labs. "It legitimizes the market," Walker said. "It's a lot easier for us to go to senior management and say, 'I want to do this deal with HP,' instead of JBoss, because they've heard of HP."

Though HP's support is only a first step - HP still does not directly support JBoss and MySQL on its HP-UX operating system - and it does not offer the software pre-installed or have the kind of independent software vendor programs it now has for the Linux operating system - it does reflect the growing stature of open-source software in the information technology industry, said Dan Kusnetzky, an analyst with research firm IDC.

"Open-source projects have become an important part of the infrastructure of HP's customers, and so HP had to respond with a set of best practices and support policies that allow these customers to operate with a strong level of comfort," said Kusnetzky.

HP already has relationships with proprietary alternatives to JBoss and MySQL like BEA's application server and Oracle's database. While Fink did not think that today's news would threaten the proprietary products, he did say that the popularity of open-source software was having an effect on the commercial software world.

"There are people who paint these doomsday scenarios [for proprietary software]. I don't think those are realistic scenarios," he said. However, he added, JBoss and MySQL may begin to force Oracle and BEA to develop more advanced features to keep ahead of their open-source competitors. "It will impact the commercial world and that means, Oracle, BEA, you need to start moving up the stack."