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SpringSource Releases New App Server

SpringSource, the chief commercial sponsor of the open-source Spring Framework project, recently released an OSGi-based Java server. The company is billing its new SpringSource dm Server as the only application server specifically designed to run Spring applications in the enterprise.

The new app server utilizes the SpringSource dm kernel technology to provide a lightweight, module-based backbone for the server. This model "harnesses the power" of Spring, OSGi-based technologies, and a fully integrated version of the open-source Apache Tomcat Web server, according to the company. This configuration makes the dm Server a natural choice for virtual and cloud computing environments, explained SpringSource CEO Rod Johnson, where dynamic provisioning and minimal footprint are critical.

"This is our next-generation application server product," Johnson told ADT. "It's extremely modular, with a very, very small footprint at runtime, which we believe is better suited than current app servers to running in virtualized environments, on grids and in cloud-computing deployments."

The Spring Framework is one of the most popular Java application frameworks on the market today, with an estimated five million downloads to date. Spring is a layered Java/J2EE framework based on code published in the book Expert One-on-One Java EE Design and Development (Wrox Press, October 2002), which Johnson wrote. He also wrote the first version of the framework, and later founded the company.

OSGi (Open Services Gateway Initiative) defines an architecture for developing and deploying modular applications and libraries. It's used for mobile and embedded devices, desktop applications, and server applications hosted on a range of operating systems. It's also an enabler of the Eclipse plug-in model.

OSGi is being adopted in an increasing number products. The specification provides a common model for writing and deploying applications to local or remote computers in modularized form. Instead of forcing developers to create monolithic applications, the spec facilitates collaboration among many small components.

"We see this widespread adoption as a validation of our approach," Johnson said. "There are a lot of vendors moving in that direction, adopting the OSGi standard of modularity -- Oracles/BEA, IBM, even RedHat. We are very happy about that. We're seeing these large companies accepting that the application server market is moving in this direction. And we believe that we have a very large lead in this space."

"SpringSource's dm Server presents an immediate alternative to open source application server solutions from larger vendors like Red Hat, IBM and Sun, especially for customers with strong commitments to the Spring Framework," said Brad Shimmin, principal analyst, application infrastructure with Current Analysis, in a statement. "Due to its lightweight, modular kernel, SpringSource's solution will, over the long term, challenge established Java EE vendors in the open source space."

The SpringSource dm Server is the foundation of the company's SpringSource Application Platform. Johnson describes the platform as an end-to-end solution that provides "complete portability and scalability" for data center and for next-generation virtualized, grid and cloud computing deployments. The platform bundles a number of tools and services to provide an environment for building, running and managing Java applications that utilize Spring-based technologies -- including the dm Server.

Although SpringSource is a Java-focused operation, the company has ported its framework product to .NET. "We are seeing significant adoption of Spring.NET, but generally in one area," Johnson said. "In the Java space, most of our customers are companies developing business applications; with .NET, a lot of our customers are software vendors using Spring.NET for shrink-wrap software."

"Spring from the get-go has been very ambitious in terms of its scope," Johnson added, "and it has evolved to the point now where it has taken on pretty significant responsibilities that used to be performed by a mixture of in-house code and application servers."

The SpringSource dm Server is available now for download from the company's Web site.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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