11 October 2008

SpringSource relaxes maintenance policy

SpringSource is going through the growing pains of a free open source company going for money.
Venture Capitalists Benchmark (they're also in RedHat) and Accel invested $25.000.000 since may 2007, and these guys like to see some return.
Up to then, Interface 21, the company of Spring founder Rod Johnson, made its money mainly from consulting services.
By the end of 2007 the company got rebranded to SpringSource and since then their focus is on making money from the products (and maintenance contracts).
They started using their money to eat Covalent, an Apache support company and contributor. Covalent gave them access to support know how and teams. It also added leading public domain products like the apache webserver and tomcat to their portfolio.
In june SpringSource announced their own application server.
Since then they have been hauling over big heads from competing application server vendors on board: the BEA WebLogic product manager, the JBoss (now a RedHat subsidiary) COO...
They came up with a RedHat-like support policy, where you get major releases for free, but have to pay for minor releases.
After a storm of community protest they have now changed that: the community will get the latest and greatest binaries (source was and remains free), but paying customers get patches incorporated in older builds.
The new policy looks fair.
Still Spring is a one company product in contrast with the Java ecosystem where you have choice. The fact that this company is going commercial only makes the dependency stronger.