The Holy Grail of IT

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2009-08-11 Print this article Print


What is closer to the focus of this deal is the process of chasing what Johnson says he sees as the Holy Grail of IT today. "Getting a unified platform between public and private clouds is the Holy Grail of IT for the next year," Johnson said. And the merger with VMware gives the combined company a "good start in getting there first," he said.

Expanding on that point, Johnson said:

"Spring provides a portable programming model that provides a sophisticated abstraction from the deployment platform, and SpringSource servers and management software complete the runtime. VMware provides a sophisticated abstraction from physical hardware. When you put those things together, you end up with the power to underpin either public or private cloud solutions. SpringSource frameworks and tooling will make the choice of those--or of a traditional data center deployment--transparent, and avoid lock-in for the user. Like Spring itself, this will help to reduce costs and empower users."

In a conference call with press and analysts, Paul Maritz, president and CEO of VMware, explained that VMware did not make SpringSource the "largest M&A transaction" in his company's history for nothing. Maritz said VMware has been moving beyond the hypervisor technology to "how one links groups of machines." Indeed, "the role of the traditional operating system is changing," he said. "There's a new layer of software generally called virtualization" that has become a requirement in the enterprise. In addition,

In short, Maritz said the SpringSource acquisition is about "making virtualization more application aware."

Maritz also noted that in the software development arena, frameworks have emerged as key platforms for developers to write to. "Developers have voted with their feet and applications are increasingly being written to these frameworks," Maritz said, noting that the Spring Framework is a hot property in the Java world, with more than two million developers having adopted it.

"To go where we need to get in the long run, and to make the deployment of applications truly autonomic we need to have deeper instantiation of the application context," and this acquisition enables that, Maritz said. "This is an essential step if we're going to take complexity out of the equation."

Maritz explained that VMware came to know SpringSource over the last nine months or so. The two companies launched an initiative last December at the SpringSource SpringOne conference where SpringSource announced a strategic partnership with VMware aimed at helping enterprises to develop and deploy Spring applications to virtualized environments.

Johnson said that over the last six months the two companies had begun to work in earnest on technical integration based on a partnering roadmap laid out in December, but with no intentions for a merger. However, Maritz said VMware made an investment of "a couple million" in the privately held SpringSource in April. Yet, acquisition talks only "started over the last several weeks," Johnson said.

As for the SpringSource technology and its road map, nothing changes, Johnson said. That includes Spring, Tomcat, Groovy, Grails and other technology in the company's portfolio.

"We're largely going to allow SpringSource to do what it has done so well," Maritz said.

"The core technology will remain both open source and portable," Johnson said. "People can run Spring on other platforms. And our commitment to open source will remain the same. The Spring Framework is very core to SpringSource, but it is driven by the community. In terms of Spring, I don't think things change at all, except that if we need resources we're backed by a bigger company. And remember that at the end of the day I'm just a member of the SpringSource community, too."

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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