With the ink still drying on the proposed acquisition of SpringSource by VMware, SpringSource has announced the cloud strategy that will eventually be the heart of the deal. The significance of the announcement is not what it brings today, but how VMware could leverage the platform once its acquisition of SpringSource closes. The offering, branded Cloud Foundry, is intended to provide developers with access to the growing SpringSource stack through the cloud. This is a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) strategy that is based on widely available and widely known technology, not something unique that was invented for the PaaS platform. Essentially, it would be the Java equivalent of Microsofts budding Azure cloud for .NET.
SpringSource is aiming to provide the Java counterpart of Microsofts Software + Services strategy
Like Microsofts .NET platform, SpringSources core technologies are already practically household names. The company claims that the Spring framework, around which SpringSource was founded, now shows up in at least half of all Java installations. Even if that claim was exaggerated (its a tough one to verify) the fact that major Java platform providers such as Oracle and IBM also support the Spring framework is a big indicator of its popularity.
Cloud Foundry differs from PaaS offerings from providers such as Salesforce or Zoho in that it is based on technologies that are already widely used by developers on premises. It differs from Google in that it relies on widely used technologies as opposed to Googles language of choice, the specialized Python. Whats striking is that SpringSources message closely resembles Microsofts Software + Services positioning, in that the technologies can be used in Cloud Foundry or on premises.
Cloud Foundry is a key pillar for SpringSource to monetize its business
As an open source company, SpringSource has not been able to monetize the full potential of its market footprint; it receives revenues only when developers pay for support. So, like Red Hat, SpringSource has been gradually building out its stack into a de facto platform because, while open source developers like the idea of free opportunities to work with cool new technology, their employers like optimized, boring, supported stacks and that's where the money is. Therefore, over the past couple of years SpringSource has gradually bulked up by acquiring:
* Covalent. Covalents principals are the prime maintainers of the Apache Tomcat.
* G2One. G2Ones principals are the originators of Groovy, a dynamic scripting language native to the Java environment, and the accompanying Grails framework.
* Hyperic. Hyperic provides the Java management at runtime.
* Cloud Foundry. Cloud Foundry provides the cloud technology.
Simply making SpringSource a part of a real company like VMware won't be enough for it to monetize its open source technology. Putting all the pieces together in an optimized bundle is crucial for enterprises to perceive real value add and open their checkbooks.
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