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VMware's SpringSource Acquires GemStone for Java Cloud Infrastructure

VMware's SpringSource division is acquiring data management vendor GemStone, and it plans to use that company's GemFire enterprise data fabric to give developers using the Java-based, open source Spring Framework the infrastructure necessary for emerging cloud-centric applications, the two companies said.

"This is a further step on our journey toward taking the enterprise Java audience and making them able to succeed in embracing cloud computing," said Rod Johnson, general manager of the SpringSource division.

A data fabric is a kind of grid-based, middle-tier data platform. GemStone's flagship GemFire object-oriented fabric provides an in-memory distributed data management platform that pools memory, CPU, network and local disk across multiple processes to manage application objects and behavior, explained GemStone CEO Richard Lamb in an interview with this site.

"It combines data caching, querying, messaging, complex events management nd global distribution of data," Lamb said. "It's a sophisticated piece of data management technology, and it's going to add quite a bit of capability to an integrated solution with Spring."

The product has, in fact, been a bit too sophisticated for easy developer adoption, said Johnson. "Currently there are a lot of very demanding customers who have been extremely successful with GemStone, but it's not the easiest product to embrace," he said. "There are obstacles to developer adoption. We believe through the Spring Framework and the Spring community we'll be able to substantially reduce those barriers and will enable Spring developers to very easily evaluate the capabilities of Gemstone and decide whether those capabilities are valuable to them."

Among the things, the company plans to make the GemStone programming model a natural extension of the Spring Framework, Johnson said. And also make the product easier to configure and more natural for the Spring community to adopt.

Johnson said he sees definite synergy between VMware's tc Server distribution of Tomcat and GemStone's technology. Another is the recently announced VMForce platform as a service offering.

This acquisition comes on the heels of SpringSource's acquisition last month of RabbitMQ, a provider of lightweight messaging. Both are part of the SpringSource group's "vision for the role of data management within cloud computing environments," the company has said

"We see the data management space as a kind of middleware that's a sweet spot for us," Johnson said. "It satisfies the needs of our enterprise customers today, but also helps with the requirements of cloud computing tomorrow."

"Modern, cloud-centric applications will be powered by a lightweight application platform, scalable data platform, and virtualized infrastructure as a service, and SpringSource is building out a portfolio to address all of those requirements," commented John Barr, distinguished analyst at The 451 Group, in a statement. "SpringSource clearly recognizes the fundamental emerging application infrastructure requirements, and therefore its customers are prepared for the data center of today and tomorrow."

GemStone competitor Terracotta weighed in on the acquisition in an e-mail from CEO Amit Pandey: "VMware's acquisition of GemStone is further validation of in-memory caching as a powerful approach to scaling enterprise applications and improving their performance. It also shows that VMware understands that this is a large and growing market, due to the huge demand from enterprise customers to scale out applications on cloud infrastructures…. We believe that VMware's entry will enlarge the market and that Terracotta is strongly positioned to take advantage of the resulting growth."

As for the company's other products, Gemstone's Lamb added that its Smalltalk-based GemStone/S Object Server, SQLFabric memory-oriented SQL data management platform, and now-in-public-alpha MagLev Ruby implementation, will continue to be supported by VMware.

VMware has been on an acquisitions tear recently. The company acquired the Zimbra groupware provider in January and SpringSource last July.

VMware also recently announced the hiring of Salvatore Sanfilippo, the lead developer of the open source Redis project. Redis is an in-memory key value store system, comparable to Memcached.

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