HOLLYWOOD, Fla.—Already a disruptive technology, the Spring Framework will become even more so as key components become available via a new subscription model.
At the company's annual Spring Experience conference here Dec. 12, Rod Johnson, CEO of SpringSource, announced a series of improvements and additions to the Spring environment aimed at easing the efforts of enterprise Java developers, a goal for which Spring was designed.
Johnson announced that SpringSource, formerly known as Interface21, will offer subscriptions for certain parts of the Spring Portfolio. SpringSource already provides production and development services, training and consulting, and some service support.
However, Johnson announced three new subscription offerings for the SpringSource Tool Suite, the SpringSource Advanced Pack for Oracle Database and the SpringSource Application Management Suite.
The SpringSource Advanced Pack for Oracle Database subscription provides support for Oracle RAC (Real Application Clusters) Fast Failover Connection, integration of the Oracle Streams AQ (Advanced Query) Java Message Service feature with Spring local JDBC transactions, improved support for Oracle's XML data types and other features, Johnson said.
The SpringSource Application Management Suite subscription helps users monitor Spring applications, components and runtimes, among other things, he said. The SpringSource Tool Suite subscription builds on the best-of-breed open-source tools the company works with, including Spring IDE, Mylyn and Eclipse, he said,
Meanwhile, Johnson said SpringSource is now delivering a "definitive Spring certification program." Testing will occur via computer-based exams and there will be 4,500 testing centers worldwide, he said. The certification tests will be available in January.
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In his keynote at the show, Johnson said the industry is entering into an era of disruption.
He cited a Gartner study that said Java EE (Java Platform, Enterprise Edition) and Microsoft's .Net are "increasingly inadequate" for current user needs.
In the early years, Java EE had all the answers for issues around Web applications, distributed objects and mess-oriented middleware, Johnson said. But things changed.
Open-source technology came into the picture and disrupted things. There was a rediscovery of object-orientation and plain old Java objects—or POJO—programming. In addition, non-Java challenges such as .Net and Ruby on Rails began to catch on.
Meanwhile, there was a rise in SOA (service-oriented architecture) technology and rich Internet applications, and the traditional stovepipe J2EE (Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition) architecture became invalidated, Johnson said.
He said that one way he tracks trends is to look at the hiring patterns in various technology areas. The hiring of developers in the application server category is not gaining, he said. He also questioned the value of an Oracle acquisition of BEA Systems, and Red Hat's acquisition of JBoss, noting that momentum has stalled in the sector.
"This category is simply not that hot anymore," he said.
Meanwhile, Johnson said he expects Spring hiring to overcome that of Enterprise JavaBeans developers by Christmas. His data also shows Spring hiring ahead of even Ruby on Rails.
"Spring can provide stability as applications and technologies evolve," Johnson said, because Spring can support any container whether J2EE or not.
Although he created Spring as a lightweight alternative for Java developers, he said he still wants to see Java EE, as well as the Java EE 6 effort to create the next version of enterprise Java, succeed. Yet he called Java EE 6 the "last-chance saloon."
Johnson said he likes the new ideas of profiles and extensibility in Java EE 6, but based on the vested interests in many of the companies helping to craft the specification, "I'm somewhat pessimistic the expert group will make the hard decisions to change Java EE. It's fairly arthritic."
Thus Spring was designed to make J2EE useful, Johnson said. And now Spring is supporting a modular infrastructure.
The Spring Portfolio, announced at last year's Spring Experience, continues to evolve. And version 2.5 of the Spring Framework enhances that portfolio.
The Spring Portfolio consists of the Spring Framework; Spring Security; Spring Web Flow; Spring Web Services; Spring Dynamic Modules for the OSGi Service Platform; Spring Batch; Pitchfork; Spring Modules; AspectJ; Spring IDE; Spring .Net; Spring LDAP; and Spring Rich Client.
Spring Web embraces JavaServer Faces. Spring Security 2.0 is expected to reach its first milestone this month
Meanwhile, Johnson said SpringSource has tripled in size in 2007, and the company has almost tripled its development effort on the Spring Portfolio.
"We are ruthlessly focused on making Spring the best product available in open source or closed source," Johnson said. "We want to ensure that Spring is a wise long-term investment."
At the conference, Mike Esler, a senior member of the global architecture team at HSBC Group Holdings, of London, said HSBC has 2,000 Java developers and 1,500 Cobol developers, an Spring is being used among many pockets of Java developers at HSBC, but the company's goal is that all Java developers use it, he said.
"All the Java applications will use Spring," Esler said. "Anything front-end and mid-tier—anything in Java—will all be migrated over, he said.
So far, one of the key benefits of using Spring has been to "bridge the gap between Web applications and J2EE," Esler said.
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