As is the case with many things in open source, users of the Python, Perl and Tcl dynamic programming languages enjoy the support of the community for their technical needs. Developers can also leverage commercial support for those languages by way of IT vendor ActiveState.
ActiveState this week released a new business edition of its ActivePerl, ActivePython and ActiveTcl software distributions. The new business edition provides support for users on Unix (HP-UX, IBM's AIX and Oracle/Sun Solaris), Linux, Windows and Mac with standardized server pricing.
To date, ActiveState has provided its dynamic language distribution through free editions with community support, and an enterprise edition, which carried custom pricing based on user deployments and needs. ActiveState notes that its dynamic language tools are in use by more than 2 million developers, though it had not specifically targeted the midmarket of development for support until now.
"We have the free distributions and then there is our enterprise edition stuff which focuses on larger enterprises and it's a 5 to 6 figure a year solution with tight SLAs," Jeff Hobbs, ActiveState's director of engineering, told InternetNews.com. "The business edition is a $1,000 per server per year and it allows you -- if you you're just a small shop that relies on one of the dynamic languages -- to get expert support."
With the new business edition update, ActiveState is also removing its free version of ActivePerl, ActivePython and ActiveTcl for HP-UX, AIX and Solaris Unix platforms. The move comes as increasing numbers of dynamic-language developers move to non-Unix platforms.
"We used to have big iron Unix platforms for free but now that will be behind a pay wall as there is a declining demand," Hobbs said. "It costs us thousands of dollars for us to keep those distributions around for Unix. If we want to buy a compiler for AIX we have to pay IBM for it."
As a result, Hobbs said that companies relying on ActivePerl, Tcl or Python for Unix will now have to pay for it, in order to support the community.
"The Unix market for us is a shrinking area but we understand that it's one where some companies really require their Unix installations to be around for another 10 years," Hobbs said.
Another change for users on all platforms comes as ActiveState will no longer provide free versions of older releases of ActivePython, Perl and Tcl. Only the most recent version will be available for free, with older versions only available to paying business edition users.
The rationale for moving the legacy versions behind a pay-wall is simple. ActiveState was spending resources supporting older versions for free users on issues that might have already been fixed in new releases. If a company requires support for an older version, it can now pay for the service, instead of straining the free community resources, Hobbs said.
From a competitive perspective, the ActiveState language distributions package up the open source Python, Perl and Tcl languages and include the right module and configurations, so they are easily installed and used on Linux, Windows and Mac platforms.
Most of the major Linux vendors already provide Python and Perl as part of their distributions, though Hobbs noted that ActiveState is cutting a different path than the typical blanket operating system support.
"We're out there to assist those companies where dynamic languages are an important part of their application toolset," Hobbs said. "What we try and provide is better, standard cross-platform, version-on-version dynamic-language distributions."