VMware buys SpringSource in cloud move

The virtualization vendor and SpringSource, founder of the Spring Framework for Java development, plan to develop integrated platform-as-a-service technologies

A move intended to capitalize on the budding cloud application deployment trend will unite virtualization vendor VMware with Java framework developer SpringSource.

VMware said Monday afternoon it is acquiring SpringSource, maker of the popular open source Spring framework for Java development and related technologies, for $362 million in cash and equity plus the assumption of $58 million of unvested stock and options. The two companies plan to build solutions for more efficiently running, building, and managing applications within internal and external cloud architectures.

[ Test Center: VMware vSphere 4 is the once and future virtualization king. | Earlier this year, SpringSource bought Web application and infrastructure management vendor Hyperic. ]

In a statement, VMware said modern computing environments are moving to an application- and data-centric world powered by virtualized and cloud platforms.  "The combination of SpringSource and VMware capitalizes on this shift and places us right at the intersection of the most important forces in the software market today -- virtualization, modern application frameworks, and cloud computing," said Paul Maritz, president and CEO of VMware, in the statement.

VMware and SpringSource plan to develop integrated Platform-as-a-Service technologies to be hosted at customer datacenters or by cloud service providers. Customers using these technologies can build enterprise and Web applications and run these systems in the same vSphere-based internal or external clouds that can host and manage existing applications. VSphere is VMware's cloud-based OS.

"The SpringSource team and community are committed to revolutionizing the way companies build, run and manage applications," said SpringSource CEO Rod Johnson in the VMware statement. "By combining forces, I'm confident that we'll be able to deliver a set of truly remarkable solutions that dramatically simplify enterprise IT."

VMware and SpringSource complement each other, said Steve Herrod, VMware CTO and senior vice president of research and development, in a blog. Both have been focused on simplifying IT, with SpringSource concentrated on application-centric areas of IT and VMware geared to hardware infrastructure, he said.

"As a combined entity, the existing efforts and missions will continue, but we'll also work to jointly sever a whole new collection of tentacles... the ones that unnaturally tie an application to the rigid way it must be deployed and managed," Herrod said.

Johnson in his blog also cited synergies. "Working together with VMware, we plan on creating a single, integrated build-run-manage solution for the datacenter, private clouds and public clouds. A solution that exploits knowledge of the application infrastructure and collaboration with middleware and management components to ensure optimal efficiency and resiliency of the supporting virtual environment at deployment time and during runtime," Johnson said. The solution planned will run on traditional Java EE application servers in a conventional data center or on Amazon EC2 and other environments as well as on the VMware platform, he said.

An analyst honed in on PaaS plans.

"The key thing of interest for me is the private and public PaaS talk in the press release," said analyst Michael Cote of RedMonk. "I haven't really seen anyone spin up a large 'Java in the cloud' effort and these two would be very credible at that. There's a lot of Java-based software out there that's theoretically inclined to run in cloud-ish environments if it followed J2EE distributed Java practices. Much of the cloud talk of the past year has been at the infrastructure layer and I'd assume VMWare would use SpringSource to move beyond that lowest level of the cloud stack, getting into assisting companies develop and port applications that ran on private and public clouds."

Johnson added there are no product overlaps between SpringSource and VMware and that no changes are anticipated to the SpringSource product lineup as a result of the merger. Last month, he cited an interest in accommodating Spring technology on the Microsoft Windows Azure cloud platform.

VMware said it plans to continue to support the principles that have made SpringSource popular: Interoperability of SpringSource software with a variety of middleware and an open source model important to developers.

In addition to offering the Spring Framework, which has been downloaded several million times, SpringSource, formerly called Interface21, also leads development of the Groovy language and Grails Web application framework and has been a key contributor to the Apache Tomcat Java server.

The acquisition has been approved by SpringSource stockholders and is expected to close this quarter, subject to customary closing conditions.

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