VMware and Google recently partnered to enable Java applications based on the open source Spring Framework to run in Google App Engine for Java (GAE/J). Should enterprises now reconsider GAE/J as a deployment environment for certain Java applications?
It's fairly easy to conclude that Google has lacked credibility in the enterprise Java cohort before its VMware partnership. For instance, the GAE/J Google Groups forum had a grand total of 4,962 members as of this writing. Considering the millions of Java developers in the world, 5,000 or so interested in GAE/J is a rounding error at best.
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Although Google is a strong supporter of open source and open Web standards, the company has chosen to take a less than pure route when it comes to Java standards. This is true with the open source Android platform, where applications are written in Java but don't compile to Java bytecode, causing consternations to the "write once, run anywhere" Java marketing proposition.
It's also true for GAE/J, where Google has decided to support only a subset of Java Enterprise Edition (Java EE) specifications. I don't know of too many enterprise Java decision makers who want to check a Will it play in App Engine page to see if a Java specification or framework their company relies on will function in GAE/J. This clearly has contributed to the relative lack of attention that GAE/J has received from enterprise Java shops.
So will VMware and Google's new partnership address enterprise Java user concerns surrounding GAE/J? The overwhelming coverage of the announcement seems to suggest that VMware's SpringSource division does lend Google credibility with enterprise Java developers, administrators, and decision makers. After all, SpringSource created the open source Spring Framework and related open source projects.
Although the Spring Framework is not a standard, it is developed in the open by VMware, and the Apache 2.0 license associated with the Spring Framework has proved sufficient to set aside fears of application lock-in to a nonstandard framework. In many ways, the Spring Framework has become a de facto standard that competes against the open standards-based Java EE platform.