The news has been all about the Facebook purchase of FriendFeed. I have already talked about that, but there was bigger news in the software development world. VMware bought SpringSource, and as a java software developer it is my duty to talk about this. The linked story has the perfect quote for why this deal was done:

With SpringSource under its wing, VMware can become the Java-based equivalent to what is expected to be Microsoft’s Azure private cloud play — which has .NET as its development platform. But rather than .NET, VMware will have the Java-based Spring Framework and its surrounding set of Eclipse-based tools as the development environment for the emerging VMware vCloud private cloud initiative.

As you can see VMware is using SpringSource as a springboard (pardon the pun) into enterprise clouds. The idea is that many companies now use Java, Spring and Tomcat as their web application stack. Spring even has products like tcServer which they say is an enterprise version of Tomcat. The SpringSource blog reiterates the enterprise cloud concepts in their blog post:

In the Spring Framework, SpringSource delivers a powerful, pragmatic, and productive approach to enterprise application development that continues to change enterprise Java for the better … We’ve taken those same values that helped to revolutionize the way you build applications, and applied them to how you deploy and run enterprise applications, resulting in ground-breaking products such as dm Server and tc Server. With our recent acquisition of Hyperic, we’re also transforming the way you manage enterprise applications, giving new levels of insight into applications and breaking down barriers between development and operational views of a running system.

SpringSource alludes to the management of applications as well. This point and the basic development stack available, make for a “button click deployment” of an entire application server. With this power within the virtualization world, VMware can make a serious play in the cloud market.

There are a few major issues with cloud computing:

  • Server configuration – how do I install my applications, like MySql, Tomcat, etc?
  • Server management – how do I manage my servers?
  • Why are the cloud offerings so confusing and technical?

The configuration and management are directly addressed with this acquisition. The confusing and technical parts of cloud services have sprouted a small industry of cloud management applications, and is related to the first two issues. If VMware does indeed create a button click install of a J2EE application, they will have solved the third issue as well.

The real question is what direction does this acquisition take? First, VMware will likely leave SpringSource alone and only integrate the products. The Spring framework will continue to be free and maintained for quite some time. Any other outcome would create a PR disaster from the software development crowd. The SpringSource blog also states that it will continue as normal:

There are no product overlaps between the two companies, and we do not anticipate any changes to the SpringSource product lineup beyond the exciting new releases that we are already working on. We’ll ensure that our subscription customers continue to receive high quality support experience. Our services division will continue to provide trainings world-wide on the same range of technology. Again, the SpringSource you know will continue to grow and flourish.

Now the last question I have is for VMware. How about you try to win the hearts of developers by opening up a cloud for them to play with your technology? I am not saying it has to be free, but if you do it cheaply, you could gain a tremendous following.

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