Spring and Java market

There are enterprise tools and there are tools that are of enterprise quality. Market in Java-land is in interesting state as Spring was the thing that disrupted everything previously and had put tremendous pressure to old players to prove their value.

From my point of view Sun has done a great job transforming some of their offering to fit better also into lowend markets – to become great infrastructure tools anywhere – case example Glassfish and Mysql.

Oracle has on the other hand been creating more offering, tools and value that can be stuck down the throat of locked in customers – and is doing quite well financially, launching itself into shopping sprees every now and then.

IBM has been doing commercial opensource and other hybrids for some time, but for many developers their tools are still expensive and enterprisey.

Jboss is still jboss. Opensource and also quite affordable.

As Ryan wrote, Spring’s pricing puts it against the big players with real enterprise support that is expensive. But something they might not have noticed is that by having just the enterprise offering and speculation of crippeled down open source version ( ’initial stability adressed’ ) they are effectively alienating their base.

Only republicans can do that, but even they must now and then – before the elections – must come back to the masses, talk about boys kissing boys being abomination, get the votes and then go back to business.

If you initially were the alternative to greedy bastards with superficial value proposition, it seems quite bad move to want to replace existing greedy bastards by transforming oneself into such – nevermind how good your value proposition is.

Spring Source’s offering is good and we all love the framework, but the packaging is stupid beyond any belief as it works well only for real enterprise customers who are used to dealing with Bea and alike. This wouldn’t matter if it wouldn’t be coupled with the fuck you tactics of new maintenance policy – effectively putting FUD on viability of spring framework’s open source version.

The utter lack of empathy for people’s motivation and understanding dynamics of the community is beyond any belief. As I said previously, what on earth do SS see gaining by setting the 3 months limit on new versions and then cutting the community off.

The implicit contract previously was that by going with the latest and greatest was good for you and good for us. New deal might be something different. Bea and Oracle can get away with stuff like that as people have already made commitments to their platforms and paid the price (and the switching costs are in multitudes of higher than what we are speaking here).

To be honest the policy itself is not that bad idea and could really well work for some company that pushes out a new product. However as others have noted and commented, Spring has got itself into the position of being integral part of Java world infrastructure and a de facto standard by being robust and open – and this feels like changing the rules in the middle of the game.

Might be.. Feels like.. wtf.

Yeah. We don’t really know for sure what this all means for the future. As we have seen from examples that people have posted, three months in current versioning could / would mean that people would be stuck with nicely buggy versions for a long time – but we don’t know what the future would be like. Could be that SS would release versions faster than previously, or not.

Fear, Uncertainty and doubt.

Normally this requires competitors to spread FUD on your portfolio and product line, this time the company has done it on it’s own.

Sun gets great community feedback for Glassfish and other projects as the opensource versions are great – and you can run them in production. Deal is clear, and it is simple – everyone is happy and everyone benefits, even enterprise customers or low key customers who still buy support for the commercial QA-tested version.

Never mind the critisism and disappointments that I’ve here described, I do still hope that there is a sane compromise that could solve the situation. Tags for the latest release would be a great way to go and return the situation as it was on logical level. Or make a commitment that new version with patches applied will be made every three months.

Rod Johnson has been really good sport on this thread and has communicated that SS tries to take these things into consideration. Hopefully we will hear soon how the thinking goes and what will the future be.

If you could go back in time, I wish that I would speak to Rod & co. beforehand and help them see where the message fails. I mean I see that there is possibility that this thing could be the best thing since sliced bread in Spring world – a really good compromise between commercial and opensource needs – but there is no way to tell. And that is the key.

So please Rod. Give us the tags, come back to the community and communicate the vision better. We really love spring and we want someone to have leadership, but now we are left in the dark and to interpret what things might mean.

And don’t fear, we don’t expect you to be as inspiring and uplifting as Obama – we still dig you. You have been the man and started a great project. Don’t let investors to screw up a great thing into a mess. Communicate, tell a story and inspire us to believe in Spring.

From a long time fanboy, soon to be sceptic.

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