Spring, Java platform combos eyed

Upcoming enterprise version of Java anticipated by Spring Framework founder

Spring technology is an alternative to EJB (Enterprise JavaBeans) for Java development, but an upcoming Java version will enable combinations of established Java platform technologies with Spring, the founder of the Spring Framework said on Tuesday.

Interviewed at the WebGuild Web 2.0 Conference & Expo, Rod Johnson, founder of the Spring Framework and CEO of SpringSource, anticipates accommodations with the enterprise Java platform once Java Platform, EE (Enterprise Edition) 6 is released. This is expected to happen sometime in 2008, according to a Java Community Process Java Specification Request focused on Java EE 6.

"I think it's pretty clear that Spring provides an alternative to EJB -- I recently blogged about how requirements for Spring skills have overtaken requirements for EJB in North America -- I don't think that necessarily means Spring is in opposition to Java EE as a whole, given that Java EE 6 is introducing the notion of profiles," Johnson said. 

Java EE 6 could allow for standardized combinations of technologies without the legacy of the traditional, full Java EE platform, Johnson said. "We could combine our technology with the various standard technologies we support," he said.

EJB provides the server-side component architecture in Java EE.

SpringSource made a big splash Tuesday by announcing its acquisition of Apache technology support services vendor Covalent Technologies. This gives Spring and Apache technology users one-stop shopping for support for these open-source technologies.

Shrinking IT budgets, if they are indeed shrinking, is likely to mean more use of open-source software, Johnson said. But during a panel session Tuesday, Johnson warned against uncontrolled use of open-source software. Governance will be needed over open source, he said.

"I certainly think that one popular misconception is that the 'free love' model is the right way to consume open source," Johnson said during the panel session, which focused on enterprise application development. "I think that there is a great danger in allowing uncontrolled consumption of open source." Panelists defined the 'free love' model as uncontrolled use of different software.

Also during the session, Chris Keene, Chairman/CEO of Web 2.0 tool maker WaveMaker Software, emphasized that software development still remains the domain of developers and that the average user cannot do much with current tools.

"There's this great unwashed mass out there that today is not able to build very much," he said.

With Web 2.0, the user community is able to drive requirements back to developers to produce applications, said panelist Joe Keller, chief marketing officer of mashup technology provider Kapow Technologies.

Johnson also noted SpringSource plans in the virtualization space. The company intends to combine Spring software with the Apache Tomcat Java servlet container in a virtualization product to be announced later this quarter and ship by the end of 2008. The idea is the product would be used for the "internal cloud" at companies looking to get more use out of their existing infrastructure and add provisioning and deployment, said Johnson.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.