SpringSource Expands Service and Support Offerings by Acquiring Covalent

| by Scott Delap on Jan 29, 2008. Estimated reading time: 3 minutes |
Today SpringSource announced the acquisition of Covalent Technologies. The acquisition comes 10 months after SpringSource (formerly Interface21) announced it had received $10 million in Series A financing from Benchmark Capital. Late in 2007 SpringSource also announced commercial software subscriptions for Spring related technologies. From the press release:
...With the addition of Covalent, SpringSource will offer a single source for products and services to rapidly develop, test, deploy and run enterprise applications using the Spring Portfolio and ASF projects, including Apache Tomcat, Apache HTTP, and others...

"There is a major, tectonic shift happening in the application infrastructure market. Enterprises are increasingly choosing a combination of Spring and Tomcat and other open source solutions which are extremely powerful, yet far more lightweight, modular and cost effective. These solutions are being chosen over bloated and complex legacy Java platforms. In fact, at a recent Spring conference, a recent survey showed that over 93 percent of enterprises running Spring also run Tomcat," said Rod Johnson, CEO of SpringSource. "Covalent has an outstanding reputation and track record both within the open source community and among the hundreds of top organizations that rely on them for Apache project support. The SpringSource and Covalent combination is poised to lead the industry's rapid migration to simpler, more flexible application platforms."

Covalent Technologies, founded in 1998, provides services and support for Apache Software Foundation (ASF) projects, namely the Apache Tomcat Application Server, Apache Geronimo Application Server, Apache Axis Web Services Framework, Apache Roller Blog Server, Apache ActiveMQ Message Broker, and Apache HTTP. Covalent CEO Mark Brewer joins the SpringSource management team as vice president and general manager of SpringSource's new Covalent business unit. The financial details of the transaction are not being disclosed by either company.

InfoQ discussed the acquisition with SpringSource CEO Rod Johnson and Covalent CEO Mark Brewer.

Brewer first explained what drove the two companies to come together. He noted that Johnson and himself had began discussions of how Covalent and SpringSource could partner 6 months ago. Many of Covalent's customers were seeking support of not only Tomcat but the Spring technology stack. Ultimately SpringSource's acquisition of Covalent made the most sense. Spring CEO Rod Johnson provided similar comments. He explained that SpringSource was listening to their customer's needs. He went on to discuss the role that Tomcat has come to play in today's enterprise Java application stack:

Tomcat is the most common production platform for enterprise Java today. One of the things that caused that to happen was Spring providing a component model for the Tomcat container and portability between Tomcat and other platforms. If you look at the history of enterprise Java over the last 10 years in comparison to the Spring/Tomcat stack widely in use today you see that people want something different [than JEE]. They want something more fluid. They want technology that can recognize different types of applications (desktop, web, batch). Yet they want these different types of applications to share a common model."

InfoQ next asked about the operation of the new Covalent business unit under SpringSource. Brewer indicated that they would continue to support other Apache products than Tomcat. The combined SpringSource/Covalent would also be able to go beyond the basic incident support that Covalent had been able to offer for Spring to this point. Customers would now be able to quickly receive patches and other enhancements. Starting immediately the support organizations of both Spring and Covalent would be merged to seamlessly support both Spring and Apache product related issues.

Finally, InfoQ asked how the future offerings of the two companies might be effected by the acquisition. Brewer and Johnson responded that SpringSource might take a harder look at integrating technology currently supported by Covalent and the combined company would expand to offer service and support for Spring related technologies that up to this point had not been supported by Covalent.

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More details by Rod Johnson

I blogged about this, talking about why we felt it was such a compelling move.

Rod Johnson, CEO, SpringSource

Not sure of the technology benefit by Kirstan Vandersluis

I'm a SpringSource customer, and have been happy with the support I receive. I also use Tomcat with Spring. I can see how users might benefit from the support perspective, one call for Spring/Tomcat support. I might personally benefit, if my Spring support contract now entitles me to Tomcat support (wishful thinking???).

However, from a pure technology standpoint, I don't see the benefit of this merger. The last paragraph above is revealing: "...SpringSource might take a harder look at integrating technology currently supported by Covalent". That's pretty non-committal if you're a Spring or Tomcat user thinking you might see major advances in the combined platform.

My guess is that this is simply a business-building decision, with SpringSource and its investors trying to make use of recent investments to increase revenues and footprint. Nothing wrong with that. But hopefully, this won't be a distraction from their true bread and butter, the Spring Portfolio.

Re: Not sure of the technology benefit by Rod Johnson


You will see major advances on the combined platform. We believe in investing in the open source software we support.

hopefully, this won't be a distraction from their true bread and butter, the Spring Portfolio.

The growth in our business enables our investment in the Spring Portfolio to grow rapidly. Consider the recent progress with Spring 2.5, Spring Integration, Spring.NET 1.1, Spring Security 2.0, Spring MVC and Spring OSGi.


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